I had one of those moments yesterday that just tugs at a father's heart.
As I walked into the house yesterday after work, I could hear that my wife was upstairs with our one-year old daughter. My initial thought was that our four-year old daughter was also with them. But then I became aware of a strange noise coming from our living room.
We have these two wooden chests in our living room that we use mainly as toy boxes to hide the mess. One of these boxes was groaning. Or growling. Or screaming. In reality, it was a combination of all three; one of the strangest sounds I've ever heard. I began to realize that this was the anguished cry of a trapped preschooler. Somehow, in the 60-seconds between my wife going upstairs and myself walking in the front door, Alyssa had climbed into the box and accidentally closed the lid on herself. The small latch had flipped over and essentially trapped Alyssa, although by pushing on the lid she could get it to open about half an inch, which she was doing repeatedly in futile efforts to free herself.
Moved with great compassion, I hurried over and released the sobbing captive. She threw her arms around my neck and continued her frightened, uncontrollable cry. As I held her tight, I kept whispering in her ear, "you're okay now, you're okay now."
It was a very odd mix of emotions for me. I wanted to cry with her, just imagining how horribly scared she must have been. But at the same time I had these feelings of gratefulness and joy- grateful that I had come home when I did and joy that I had been able to set her free. There was some kind of fatherly pride in being the one to rush in and save the day.
In that moment, I couldn't help but to think about how very much like Alyssa we all are at some time or another. We are trapped, and completely unable to help ourselves, in spite of our best efforts to find a way out. While no one is looking, or with no one around to tell us to stop, we crawl into a box of sin that looks appealing. And we're not sure how, but somewhere in the middle, the lid slams shut and what at one moment looked enticing and tempting suddenly feels very dark and confining. We shout, we scream, we try to force our way out. But we're trapped.
And then, the heavenly father is moved with compassion, hears our cry for deliverance, and rushes to our aid. Romans 5 tells us that, "At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Through Christ, he flings open the lid of oppression and sets us free from confinement. As we grab hold of him, He affirms his love for us, "you're okay now, you're okay now." He has felt our pain, but he also rejoices in being our deliverer.
Today, may you know a God that rushes to your aid anytime you cry out to him. He delights in setting the captive free.