by Caryl Moll
I have a vivid memory of my father in the lush vegetable garden below our old farmhouse. As a young child, he’d take my small hand and lead me through it – patiently explaining all the plants and pointing out the birds that would annoyingly steal his fruit. The garden supplied all our household produce and my father tended it lovingly. He particularly enjoyed showing it off and I was a receptive ear during those early morning inspections.
I remember him in his farmer’s attire – a standard issue ‘Safari suit’ with long socks and old weathered ‘veldskoens’. His sweaty, faded hat completed the look. It spoke of wisdom and confidence. These were happy times.
“Come Caryl,” he called with outstretched arms. In an instant I was skipping from foot to foot and reaching up towards him. With a wide smile, he’d scoop me up in his arms and hold me high. “Look at the view,” he’d laugh.
I was suspended precariously and it left me shaking with anticipation. And then, he’d suddenly reposition his large, strong hands and adjust his hold. I found myself ‘seated’ in his hands with his arms acting as the ropes on an imaginary swing. I shrieked in delight.
“Hold on tight,’ he laughed as then the fun began…
My “Daddy” would explode into a sprint with me in hand. Sometimes he’d lose his hat. As he ran, he’d bring me low towards the ground – almost skimming the sandy path. Then he’d lift me high… almost upside down. I felt like I could reach the clouds. Suddenly he’d stop and swing me in circles. The breeze fluttered my pony-tail and my giggles echoed across the garden.
These special moments seem suspended in time. I was so happy to be with my “Daddy” – just me and him. I was filled with the joy and delight of being loved. There were no worries because my ‘Daddy’ was the champion of my world.
“That’s enough now.” He’d plant me firmly on the ground and take long, deep breaths to regain his rhythm. Then he’d reach for my hand as we strolled back to the farmhouse.
Our earthly fathers play such an important role in our early childhood development. They are tasked with nurturing our talents and giving us direction. My own father, although complex, was a good example of a caring, loving Dad. Yes, he had his faults, but he was my protector and the man I looked up to. I idolised him.
Dad gave me an appreciation for the landscape which was our home. I followed him everywhere. I was sensitive to his moods and learned from them too. I knew when he was hopeful for his harvest, worried about his farm stock or angry because things had gone wrong. Through him I shaped my own ideas of how to treat people, respond to authority and nurture a family. I learned his routines, adopted his principles and followed his orders implicitly. He and my mother became the framework for my own life.
I loved visiting my Dad in the fields. I’d take a basket to him – of cookies and tea – to brighten his day. He’d stop all work when he saw me and beckon me to the shade of a Marula tree. There, we’d share our ‘picnic’ and absorb the healing silence of the bush. He’d marvel at his crops and lament about the lack of water. Above it all, he oozed a love for God’s creation and a hope to make the best of it. This was my “Daddy”: a man who tilled the soil and fed those who were put in his trust.
But life happened. I eventually grew up and left the little farm. It was time to get an education and start my own life. I found myself attending university in the city – a busy metropolis – surrounded by millions of people all on their own mission. It was a harsh environment without the time to take a breath and ponder the little things in life. I felt lonely, miserable and directionless but somehow made the best of it. I hankered deeply after those early years and their sense of belonging.
The turmoil in my soul grew stronger. I wanted my “Daddy” back as well as the joyfulness of my youth. Not to mention the beautiful Eden I’d been born into. I was searching – like many of us – for a deep, spiritual, somewhat elusive love…
And I eventually found my “Daddy” … at the foot of the cross one day.
I loved the story of how this “Daddy” has always wanted to rescue people like me. I loved that through His Son, Jesus, He has made a way for us to no longer wallow in pain. He fills up our ancient longing with his steadfast promises:
“ 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)
My new “Daddy” is larger than anything I could have ever have hoped for. As I began to acknowledge that I was simply a sinful human being, I began to understand the gift that He was offering me… one of eternal life with Him. I merely had to surrender myself to Him. His gift was Jesus and His Spirit – His risen son – a person more powerful, more loving, more glorious than anyone before. I was catapulted into a path of love, joy and peace. I no longer felt lonely. I was truly “in Christ”.
Nowadays, I’m thankful for the opportunity to “picnic” with “Daddy” in my quiet times. I often feel Him picking me up and allowing me to reach for the skies. I am secure and joyful in His arms as He leads me into new adventures. He is the quiet voice of reassurance and direction. I have a spiritual home now and a family, and am blessed beyond measure.
So, dear reader, like me, you never have to feel alone! “Daddy” is always accessible – He’s only a prayer away. Why not give it a try? And yes, I look forward to the day when He will return (for real), scoop me in His arms again and run along that beautiful path.
With love, in Christ