When my son was about four years old, I bought him a big heavy orange vinyl ball that looked like a giant orange. It had leaves painted on the top and even had an orange smell. He loved it. It was one of his favorite toys. We played with it, tossed it back and forth, rolled it down the hall.
I wasn't interested in the ball. I was interested in my son. The ball was "above" my intellectual level. It held no interest for me whatsoever. I didn't care about the ball. But it was of great interest to my son. He cared about it. He liked to play with it.
For me, its value was that it provided something we could do together. I cared about him, therefore, I cared about the things that concerned him.
One day, when he was away, I walked into the den and saw a sight that I knew would disappoint him. His little four-year-old heart was so tender!
The ball had burst! There was a long split down the side from top to bottom! It appeared that the vinyl had become weak and "popped". The ball was ruined. It could not be repaired.
I could feel the disappointment that my son would feel later. I could, in my "mind's eye", see the look on his face and the memories of our times together flash through his little mind. He had not experienced these things yet, but I knew he would. Fathers that love their children just know these things.
Then, a thought flashed through my mind. I couldn't repair the ball. Instead, I would go quickly and buy him another ball just like it before he could discover that his ball was ruined. He didn't have to experience the disappointment! I was excited.
I went to the store and found, to my great disappointment, that they were sold out of those balls. I search the store over, and finally, I FOUND ONE! I bought it, brought it home, and put it in the toy box where the "old" ball was kept.
Later, when he wanted to play ball, he went to the toy box, got the ball, and we played, just as we had so many times before.
He never knew the "old" ball had burst. He never knew I had gone to get a new ball. He never experienced the disappointment of seeing one of his treasures ruined. He never felt the pain of the thought that we couldn't play ball together.
As I thought on this later, my thoughts turned to my relationship with God, my Father. If I cared for my son in this way, how much more did He care for me? I wondered how many times my "ball had burst" and He had "bought me a new ball", and I never knew it. How many times had He prevented a hurtful situation from occurring, and I never knew it. How many times had he "answered" a prayer that I did not have the opportunity to "pray" because He had intervened?
I watched my son that day with a new, wonderful, warm, special kind of feeling, because I -- and only I -- knew what he would have experienced had I not intervened. It was a wonderful feeling to know that he would never know.
I also knew that if he had found the ball ruined, he would have brought it to me and, in his simple child's trust in his father, a trust that KNEW dad could do anything, he would have asked me to fix the ball.
So, even before he asked me, I answered him.
My relationship with my son is but a faint reflection of how God loves me -- and how he loves you.
He is a wonderful loving Father. And He smiles at you, and looks at you with the look that only a Father can know as He remembers the times He "bought you a new ball", and He -- and only He -- knows what you would have experienced had He not intervened for you.
He loves you more than you will ever know. Trust Him.
G. Randall Vaughn