When I was a 16-year-old in 1960, my father, who operated a service station, made it possible for me to own a 1953, navy-blue, four-door Ford. I was the first among my peers to have landed their own set of wheels, and that made me a popular person.
The Collector’s Car Network, Inc. (US)
One Sunday afternoon my best friend Randy and I went cruising around town, and it came time to take him home. On the way to his house, we cruised along a long straight road, then down a hill. At the bottom there was a built-up railroad track. As we descended, Randy said, “I dare you to jump the railroad track!” I could not let the dare go unchallenged. Smoke boiled out the back as we gained momentum. When we hit the railroad track, the car went airborne. All we could see was blue sky out the front window. As the car hit the ground the suspension collapsed, and sparks flew out from under the car. I was so proud of myself. What a jump! I was even laughing.
Then, I focused my eyes back on the road and to my shock, my father stood about 100 yards away in the road, waving me down. My parents had been riding around, too, had some car trouble and pulled over. They had watched me do this dumb stunt. Suddenly Randy said, “Look, there’s my mother.” Randy’s mom had stopped to help my parents, and she had also witnessed me doing this dumb stunt. As I pulled the car to the side of the road, I was no longer proud or laughing. I felt about an inch tall.
Randy said, “You are in big trouble.”
Randy’s mother reached us first. She opened the passenger side of the car. She shook a pointed finger at me and said, “Kenneth Godfrey, that was the most stupid stunt I have ever seen anyone do. Suppose a train had been coming. You could have been killed and killed my son, too. I am not going to let my son ride with you again.” As she helped Randy out of the car I wanted to say, “He was the one who dared me.” But I kept my mouth shut.
By this time my father reached me. I thought he was going to chew me out good, but he just stood at my window and didn’t say a word. I finally got up enough courage to look at him, and I could see on his face an expression of hurt and disappointment. He never said a word. He just reached through the window, turned the motor off, pulled the key out of the ignition and stood there looking at the key. He walked away shaking his head in disappointment. I was grounded. I figured I was going to be an old man before I would ever be allowed to drive again. For the next two weeks, my mother drove me anywhere I needed to go.
It took some time but I was forgiven, and their trust was restored. In my heart, I never wanted to disappoint them again.
What a transforming experience–to do such a stupid stunt and have your dad and mom and your best friend’s mom watch. As I thought about this experience, a more profound revelation came to me. My Heavenly Father sees every dumb, stupid stunt I do. He sees every action. He knows every thought. There is nothing about us that he doesn’t know, and yet he loves us enough to chastise, forgive, and restore us.
Aaron Burden Photographer
Psalm 139 proclaims:
1O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
3You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
Janko Ferlic on unsplash.com
Through the years the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow” has spoken to me, particularly the third verse.
Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.