I grew up as a military brat, meaning my dad was in the Air Force branch of the United States military, and we moved around quite a bit. As a kid, I lived in a lot of interesting places, and when I was in late elementary school, my dad got stationed at an airbase on the island of Guam. So for two years, me and my family lived in the tropics. In case you’ve never heard of it, Guam is this little island way out in the Pacific Ocean near the equator, about 4,000 miles west of Hawaii. It’s a place of tropical excitement and exhilarating adventure, but also an environment that is no stranger to these crazy storms called typhoons. Now, if you don’t know what a typhoon is, I describe it as a hurricane on crack.
And wouldn’t you know it, during mid January of our first year there, Typhoon Roy hit the island of Guam…and he hit it hard. All of our house windows were boarded up, trees were blown over and uprooted, coconuts flew through the air and smashed into car windshields, rain fell at monsoon levels, and electricity was inevitably lost from the island for days.
Thinking back, I can vividly remember the first night of chaos as Roy raged outside our little home on the airbase. I stood at the dining room table with my mom and sister and helped put together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle by candlelight as we listened to the blustery destruction-producing storm howl outside. Now, the average ten-year-old boy is brave when it comes to garden variety adventure around the house, but I’ve got to admit that Typhoon Roy scared me half to death. Every creek, bump, and bang I heard outside made me jump with fright for fear of what might happen if our storm shutters didn’t hold up against the wind. I was terrified.
My mom, sister, and I worked well as a team, but after about fifty pieces into the dimly-lit puzzle, my bladder got the best of me. I needed to go, which meant one more frightening thing—walking to the bathroom at the back of the house by myself in the darkness. In the moment, I’m sure I thought about just peeing my pants so I didn’t have to leave the safety of the candlelight, but I knew kids my age didn’t voluntarily do that anymore. So I manned up, grabbed the flashlight on the kitchen counter, and made my way to the back of the house, one shaky footstep at a time.
When I reached the entrance to the hallway that lead to our home’s bedrooms and bathroom, I stopped short before continuing and noticed how very dark the hallway appeared. In the dim flashlight illumination, our clothes hamper at the end of the hall looked remarkably like one of those tree goblins from the infamously bad B-movie Troll 2. That, I knew, was just my imagination, but what I heard next was not a creation of my mind. It was something quite real.
A strange noise came from around my feet and startled me to the point of jumping backwards, away from the hallway’s entrance. Was it our lazy house cat, Muffin, looking for a back scratch or refill on her tiny bowl of Fancy Feast cat food? I couldn’t be sure, so I reluctantly let my flashlight beam fall to the ground near my feet, toward where the sound was coming from.
What I saw next changed my perspective on everything running through my mind that evening and probably gave me the ability to recall this story with as much vivid detail as I can now. The narrow beam of light quickly revealed not Muffin the fat cat, but my sweaty dad in full workout gear, doing push-ups on the carpeted floor.
See, at this time in his life, my dad was a marathon runner, and if he wasn’t able to get outside to exercise, he would work out at home by doing sit-ups, push-ups, and any stretching on the living room floor. I came across him while he was smack in the middle of his in-home workout.
As you can imagine, it was a little jarring for me in the moment, but when my flashlight lit up my dad as he made that exhaling push-up hissing noise, I remember this immediate wave of peace that swept over my little mind and body. When I saw him, I wasn’t afraid of the dark hallway anymore. The sounds of the storm outside didn’t scare me the way they did before. The clothes hamper at the end of the hall was just a piece of wicker furniture, not some scary monster as I originally imagined.
There was my father, looking all manly and tough, and I took solace in the fact that he would protect me from any would-be dangers going on outside. He wouldn’t let any creature that lurked in the darkness grab my legs and gobble me up. He would care for me and let no harm befall me. My fears recoiled in the light of his protection and strength because I knew one thing for certain: my dad loved me.
As an adult now, I look back on this story as a wonderful example of how much God loves and cares for me. When I was a kid, I knew my dad would protect me from anything that tried to harm me, and my anxiety that night was vanquished the second I saw him exercising on the floor. My dad is a great example of earthly love and protection, but God is infinitely more loving and caring than any earthly father could be. The evidence is here:
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give good gifts to those that ask him? (Matthew 7:11)
Many of us constantly struggle with worry, anxiety, and paralyzing fear. Fear of missing out. Fear of the future. Fear of others forgetting all about us or not loving us. Those emotions can color our lives if we let them, but God calls us as His children to something much better than time-wasting worry. If we look to our Heavenly Father in all of His strength and love, our anxiety will melt like a crayon in the sun because we know He loves us and wants what is best for us. It may not be immediately apparent, but we can always look to our Father as a way to alleviate the anxiety that has a nasty habit of sitting in the driver’s seat of our lives.
Typhoon Roy brought not only destruction to Guam that year, but it also brought fear to the heart of a little boy who then quickly recognized his dad was a safeguard in the midst of the storm. If we recognize that God is in fact God and He is for us, not against us, worry will diminish in our lives and leave room for growth, faith, and intimacy with our Father. Our faith in His goodness guides us toward a peace that rests in the confidence of His sovereignty when we are tempted to doubt it.