How one dad found the inner spiritual resources to turn from his own limited ability to a higher source of help.
Dads want to protect their families—that’s a given. What’s often not as obvious is that many would never admit they need help to do it.
And, in today’s world, it seems there are many things that threaten to undermine a dad’s ability to protect his family–from financial downturns, crime, internet and schoolyard bullying and predators. Yet, help is at hand.
A hazardous trip in a freak spring snowstorm nearly undid one dad until he realized he had to ask for help. That dad was my husband, Jack.
We’d started off from my parents’ house in Virginia in time to get to our home in upstate New York before the storm was to hit. Our three little kids were bundled in the back of the station wagon and Jack planned to make good timing before the famous lake effect swallowed up Syracuse.
But sooner than expected the storm barreled down throughout Pennsylvania and my husband was increasingly anxious as we crawled along the Turnpike in blinding blizzard conditions.
As fear and a sense of helplessness increased, Jack admitted that he could do no more than he was already doing to get us safely to our destination. The situation was no match for mere human ingenuity. He needed a source of strength and ability that was innate, unlimited, and able to govern the situation when his own efforts were insufficient.
As an active Presbyterian, Jack must have prayed for his family’s protection and for a way out of danger. In other words, “Dear God, help!” My own Christian Scientist’s prayer was also a simple, heartfelt appeal to our divine Father. My prayer was based, not on despair or crossed fingers, but an absolute trust that the power of good was there with us—an infinite Love that would send us just what we needed to be safe.
The first help came literally in a sign from above, I have now come to believe, although I did not recognize that at the time. In large green letters, it towered over the road and urged, “Please drive gently.” We did. My husband slowed down even more and put on the flashers.
When Jack decided we could not go on, our only option was to take the next exit and hope for a hotel. We slid down the icy exit ramp to a small town, and then the second help appeared: a police car whose cheerful driver called out, “Follow me! I’ll lead you to the fire station where they’re putting up travelers. All hotels are booked.”
The police car led us gently until we reached the nearby station. There, the firefighters greeted us warmly while stirring up pots of spaghetti for their unexpected guests.
These helpers showed us blankets and places to curl up on the floor, apologizing that there were only two chairs and no beds left. No one complained. Among the many stranded travelers, there was a happy sense of safety and companionship. My husband was relieved, humbled and grateful; as were we all. He was beginning to better trust that sense of innate, unlimited strength in a divine, ever-present power and to see it having a practical effect on our situation.
More help arrived. A young man appeared at the door calling out for any families with small children to come with him. He said an older couple lived just a few doors away and wanted to help. Would a young family like to stay at their home for the night? Oh, yes. We would. So, this young man drove us safely there in a big, powerful truck.
These elderly angels, Al and Betty, swept us up in love and hot chocolate. They gently bedded us down for the night, taking special care to make our children feel at home under honest to goodness handmade quilts. We all slept well, especially my husband, who began to shed his sense of burdened responsibility for us. Help, he saw, was present in many ways.
The next morning, the radio announced that major roads were plowed, salted and open again for traveling. We were sad to say goodbye to our wonderful hosts and promised to call when we reached home safely.
Once again, we began our journey with all the other travelers now in long lines of cars. At one point my husband saw an opportunity to advance into a newly opened lane. But a nearby truck driver, apparently resentful that we had broken out of the line and gotten ahead, glared hatefully at us. Suddenly all lines came to a stop, and as we looked back in horror, we saw this truck driver leave his stalled cab and come toward us, slapping a tire iron against his hand. My husband saw there was no way out—no way forward or backward– so again we silently prayed, HELP. We told the kids to hide under some blankets quickly, and they obeyed.
Suddenly, the stalled lines of cars began to move and a way opened up like the parting of the Red Sea. We sprinted forward and were able to create a safe distance between us and the truck driver, who returned to his rig and disappeared into the merge. We journeyed on safely the rest of the way home.
Long after that terrible/wonderful time in the snowstorm I asked myself, what was it about those cries for help that brought not only comfort but also practical results?
I can’t speak for my husband, but I have experienced many times the presence of an infinite Love that sends us just what we need to be safe. It not only comforts but also produces practical results. It was as if, when he’d reached the end of his own efforts and turned to the Divine for help, my husband was reassured with the same message that many, many dads from down the centuries have heard: “You are their dad, but I am your Father. I’ll strengthen you, help you and carry your little ones safe between my shoulders. I will gently lead those that are with young. Call on Me”.
Photo credit: Flickr/Adrian Scottow