Years ago, walks through the woods were the norm for my father, my brother and me. We would explore, and Daddy would teach us about types of trees, different kinds of animal tracks and how to recognize poisonous plants.
During one such walk, on an early spring afternoon, we were all making our way up a fairly steep hill covered in a stand of old oaks and maples. I talked to my brother as we moved steadily along. I took a step, but before my foot could fall, I saw my father’s forearm as it caught me across the chest and sent me reeling downhill. I tumbled for a few yards until I managed to stop myself.
“He hit me,” was all I could think. Never had he done such a thing. I felt tears welling up. “Why would he hurt me like that?” There was no physical pain, but the thought that he would do such a thing broke my heart.
I turned my eyes uphill and looked as he, still wordless, held his palm up toward my brother indicating for him to be still while grabbing a large, thick limb from the ground with the other hand.
He swung the limb over his head and pounded it into the leaves on the ground in front of him again and again. I stood up and watched him.
Finally, after numerous blows, he wiped his brow and, with the jagged tip of the limb, lifted a large, now-dead copperhead from the leaves. He looked at me.
“I’m sorry for hitting you with my arm,” he said. “You were in danger, and I had no time to explain. You were about to put your foot down on that snake.”
My momentary confusion and pain gave way to gratitude and relief. The last thing on his mind was hurting me; his primary thought was my good.
It’s been said that our earthly fathers should be a reflection of God, but God is the perfection of our earthly fathers.
Thinking of that snake and my dad, I wonder how many times my Eternal Father has done the same without my knowing…
The blow comes. Unexpected. Hard. Confusing. All in an instant, I find myself further away from where I thought I was headed. But as I pick myself up, I often look upward and see Him, removing me from the threat that I did not know was there and taking care of it.
I imagine Him saying, “You were in danger. I had no time to explain.”