Growing up, many of my friends referred to my dad as Lou Ferrigno (The original Hulk from TV). In my youth group at church, dad quickly rose in youth group lore close to the ranks of Church Norris. Chuck Norris jokes turned into James Staggs jokes, and it was something of a surprise to me and most likely to my father as well.
Dad is a quiet man. He listens, smiles, and enjoys the company. Dad grew up doing 100 push-ups a night and even more on weekends to earn allowance money from his dad. As I grew older, I thought he told the story to help the lore of his strength increase, but an old high-school classmate confirmed this story for me a few years ago.
My dad is quiet, strong, and some would say looks like the Hulk. A few years ago, I held my dad’s hand around the table to pray, and his hand swallowed mine even though I was 25 years old at the time. My hand fit in his like I was a small child.
My Heavenly Father is incomparably better than my earthly father.
I fear my father. Not a scary fear. A fear that recognizes that my dad is stronger than I could ever imagine and that he uses that strength to care for and protect his family and those around him.
When I was 6 or 7 years old, we rode our bikes to a local school to play on the playground. Our family often took this adventure on Sunday afternoons. Each week we passed by a house that had several dogs that chased us. When a dog chases you on a bicycle, you pedal faster, and the dogs will hopefully give up a few houses down. One particular Sunday, these dogs got closer to me than ever before, and instead of pedaling faster, I was paralyzed by my fear and came to a complete stop. At this moment, six-year-old me genuinely believed that my life was over.
That was until my father showed up. He came and stood in front of me. I clung to the back of his leg for my life. As the dog barked and ran around us, my dad constantly turned with me on the back of his leg to shield me from my perceived danger. My dad was eventually able to scare the dog off, and we returned to our bicycles. In truth, this dog was no big deal for my dad, even though it seemed life-threatening for me. However, because it was a big deal for me, it was a big deal for my father.
As good as my earthly father has always been to me, I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father is incomparably better than my earthly father. God is a Father who does not fail us. God is ten thousand times better than the best father on earth. Jesus says in Matthew 7 not that we have a good Father, but that we have a “perfect father.” Even if your earthly father failed you, your Heavenly Father never will.
I am so thankful that even as my earthly father shielded me from the pain of this tiny dog, our earthly Father protects us from the pain of things much more significant. No matter what we fear, no matter what we feel is against us, we can cling to our Father, and he will indeed protect us.
If we are in Christ, He has already rescued us and saved us from the greatest threat of all; eternal separation from Him.
No matter how old we get, our hand will still fit in His like a small child, and we will never be too big to cling to Him. Our Heavenly Father protects us from danger not just for a time but for all time.