Saturday, December 25, 2010

Oh, Daddy!

Dear Orange Moon Friends,
    I have shared this with you in the past, my favorite Christmas memory.  If titled, it would be called "Oh Daddy!"  Bear with me as I share it again for my personal blessing, and hopefully, yours.
   When our youngest daughter Emmie was 3 years old, she asked for a copy of the Disney film, "101 Dalmations."  She has seen it at the theatre during the summer and loved it, and wanted to be able to watch it at home also.  This was her number one gift request for the season, and a moderately priced one at that! 
     No problem, I decided, and went to the video store just down the street. "We're sold out," they said as for the first time I heard the words I would hear for months to come.  Every store told the same story.  As it turned out, the Disney Company was taking the video out of circulation at the time of Emmie's request, and people were buying up any remaining copies.  Several weeks of searching yielded no copy of the movie, and it seemed impossible that I would be able to fulfill my daughter's primary Christmas gift wish.
    I began to pray that the Lord would provide a copy, if He saw fit.  Several months passed, and the middle of December arrived with no copy of "101 Dalmations."  I continued to pray, but began to wonder if perhaps the Lord had, in His perfect wisdom, decided not to provide a copy of the movie.  I was well aware that sometimes our desires and requests are not for the best interests of ourselves or others, and that God's "no" is as loving as His "yes."  I continued to pray, but had just about given up the hope that Emmie would receive her most desired present on Christmas Day.
     A week or so before Christmas, I passed by the original video store.  "It can't hurt to stop and give it one more chance," I thought.  I walked into the store and immediately went to the service desk area.  "How can I help you, sir?" the nice girl behind the desk asked.   I told her my request, and I can hear her response as if it had just happened, rather than 15 years ago.  "Yes, we do have a copy, sir, just one actually."  I could barely hear the rest of her words because the "Yes" nearly drove my knees on the spot.  "My manager told me to sell this copy today if someone asked for it.  We had reserved it for someone a while back and they never came to pick it up."
     Sometimes God is so tangible that it feels like you can reach out and physically touch Him.  Or more literally, that He has touched you.  That moment in the video store is indelibly etched in my brain and heart, and sadly, the store closed its doors this past year.  I bought the movie - surprise! - and went my way rejoicing (but not knowing that a far greater blessing awaited me on Christmas morning).
    As parents are wont to do, we saved the big gift for last.  All the packages were opened, and Emmie seemed fine despite the fact that "101 Dalmations" had not appeared. In my mind, however, the drama was building and finally I said, as casually as possible, "Uh, Emmie, is that a package left behind the tree?"  She went to check, and I'm pretty sure immediately knew what she held in her hands.  Quickly tearing the wrapping from the package, a scene of speckled dogs greeted her on the cover of the video.  Far more than the moment in the video store, I'll never forget her response.
     "Oh Daddy!"  Emmie's thrilled exclamation was accompanied by her running into my arms to give me what remains the tightest and most grateful hug I have ever received.  We have the moment on film, thankfully, and while I haven't watched it in a few years, I don't need to.  Again, "Oh Daddy," the hug, the moment in the store, and the months of praying and searching are all indelibly written in my heart.
     There is a term in Scripture that seems to mirror Emmie's words.  "Abba Father" was uttered by the Lord Jesus during His earthly lifetime, and for believers, "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).  Biblical language scholars are unsure of what the term actually means, but some believe it to have been an expression of endearment and intimacy.  Doubtless many such moments took place in the heart of our Lord as He walked the earth, and the same happens in us.  Sometimes the goodness of God is so real and near to us that we spontaneously burst forth with thoughts, feelings, and cries of affectionate and thrilled gratitude.  Emmie's outburst was directed toward me, and I will never forget the moment.  It has led, however, to far more moments during the last fifteen years, moments when I remember that time when God's perfect faithfulness was so tangibly revealed to me, to my daughter, and to our family.  Yes, Emmie's "Oh Daddy!" always causes me to feel and express the same toward my Father in Heaven.
"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."
(I John 3:1)

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