Perfect love drives out fear. – 1 John 4:18
When I was five or six, Dad and I went on an overnight train ride to Chicago. We slept in a sleeping car called a “Pullman.” Our compartment had bunk beds you could pull down from the wall. I wanted the top berth, and Dad slept in the lower one.
After all of a minute, because of the motion of the train and the steady rhythm of the wheels on the track, I was fast asleep.
Then, something in the middle of the night woke me up. My eyes opened in this strange, dark little room. Everything was moving. I didn’t know where I was, and I was terrified.
I cried out, “DADDY! DADDY!”
I remember the “thunk” underneath me as Dad jolted awake and hit his head on the bottom of my berth. Instantly he was by my side as I was crying. His big, strong, calloused hand patted me gently on the shoulder. And I hear his words today as clearly as then: “It’s OK, Greggie—Daddy’s here. You just had a bad dream. It’s OK…”
I gradually got my bearings. The tears dried. My breathing went back to normal. I easily drifted off to sleep. The rocking of the train, once scary, was now soothing.
Dad, on the other hand, probably stayed awake the rest of the night thanks to me.
When I find myself afraid, I wish for the same relief I got in the darkness of the train ride. “It’s OK, Greggie, Daddy’s here.”
Can we believe that the heart of the Gospel is that message, that there’s a Parent who speaks and reassures in the darkness? No wonder the last words John Wesley spoke were, “The best of all is that God is with us!”
Or, as another John said, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE! Wishing each of you a joyous Christmas and a happy (MUCH happier!) 2021!