When I was about sixteen, I was given a “simple” task one day. I was supposed to drive the pickup to the field where my father was baling hay and relay a message. Easy, right? You’d think so, but it didn’t turn out that way. You see, at the bottom of the field was a piece of boggy ground. Although I knew that field like the back of my hand, I wasn’t paying attention and I drove right into the boggy patch. Knowing I was in trouble, I tried to correct my course, but I only dug myself deeper. I hit the gas and spun the wheels. I tried to rock back and forth. Nothing worked. I was stuck, and I was stuck deep.
I hopped out of the pickup and picked my way over to dry ground. I could see my father’s tractor on the top of the hill. Feeling like the stupidest person on the planet, I slowly walked toward him. Dad stopped and leaned out of the tractor’s door. I looked down at my shoes knowing that I deserved a rebuke. Instead, I heard him chuckle.
“Looks like you had a spot of trouble,” he said. When I nodded, he smiled. “Why don’t you walk back home and get your brother’s pickup. I’ll use it to haul you out.”
Feeling relieved, I smiled and nodded. As I hiked the half mile back to the house, I decided that my dad was the nicest person in the world. Feeling my confidence soaring back, I hopped into my brother’s pickup and barreled down the road. When I arrived at the field, I looked for my father’s tractor. He was back on the hilltop. As I was trying to decide the best route to take to get to him, I drove right into the bog. AGAIN. To this day, I still don’t know how I managed it. I was so horrified. I couldn’t believe it, but it was real. My brother’s pickup was stuck right beside my father’s.
To say that I was upset with myself was an understatement. I mean seriously–what kind of hair-brained idiot manages to get two pickups stuck in the same patch of mud on the same day? I looked up at the hilltop. My dad was still going around and around. Hoping that I wasn’t on his radar, I frantically I spun the tires. I rocked back and forth. I got out and pushed. Finally, I kicked the tire and slammed the door shut. No matter how badly I wanted to deny it, I was stuck in the mud again, and I needed help.
Slowly, I started walking toward the hilltop. My feet dragged. I sniffled a little. I felt so stupid. I dreaded facing my father. He was the nicest person in the world, but he was sure to wonder how he’d managed to have such a moronic child. I deserved to get yelled at. I knew the bog was there. I knew I was supposed to avoid it. I sniffled some more. I was so embarrassed that I wanted to die. (Sixteen takes things VERY seriously, you know.)
Anyway, when I reached my father, I was so ashamed that I didn’t even try to look up at him. I heard the tractor coming to a stop. I heard my father getting out of his seat. I heard his feet hitting the ground. Then I felt his hand on my shoulder. When I finally looked up, he smiled the nicest smile and said softly, “I’ll get a chain and pull you out.”
I blinked. I’d been waiting for a rebuke, but the rebuke never came.
I learned an important lesson that day–not just about my father, but about God’s grace. There have been times when I’ve found myself stuck right back in the middle of bad habits that I thought I’d managed to break. When that happens, I’m tempted to slink away from God and try to fix things myself. I want to spin my tires and try to hide. But through the lesson I learned from my earthly father, I know that my Heavenly Father won’t rebuke me, or make fun of me, or make me feel small. He will simply get a chain and pull me out of the mud. After all, just like my dad, God’s pretty awesome that way.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16