I used to call my Daddy “Mr. Safety.” He seemed so obsessed with safety precautions that I dreaded riding with him in the car. He did the exact speed limit and not one mile-per-hour over. It was so excruciating, I subconsciously began pressing my right foot into the floor. It didn’t get us there any faster.
I worked hard to keep all my comments and opinions about his driving to myself and for a while I was sure my Dad was oblivious to my frustration. Then one day, we’re in the car going somewhere (very, very slowly) and out of the silence he says, “If you always do the speed limit, you’ll never have to look over your shoulder.” We had just passed a car pulled over for speeding and the point was made.
When he bought me my first car, I was required to learn how to change its tires, spark plugs, oil, oil filter and air filter. I learned what an alternator did, where the crank shaft was and why I should always check my fluids. At first I thought Daddy just wanted me there to hold the light while he worked on my car. Not so. Our garage was a classroom and I was the student. “Are you paying attention?” he’d ask when I’d start chatting about some non-auto topic. “Cheryl, you’ve got to know this stuff in case you break down on the road and you’re all by yourself.”
Honestly, at the time I was not real thrilled to be hanging over a greasy hot engine in a stinky, cold garage. I was scraping spark plugs with sandpaper while other girls my age were shopping. Today, I’m thrilled that Mr. Safety taught me all the auto-stuff.
Daddy hid copies of keys to the car and the house in really cool places. I never had to worry about being locked out and I always listened as he told me why it was important to return the keys to their hiding places if I ever had to use them. This, too, seemed obsessive, until the day I forgot my house key and no one was home to let me in–or the day I locked myself out of my car which was parked in a not-so-friendly place.
Yes, each of those fatherly preparations has indeed kept me safe throughout my journey on this big blue ball. Still, none were as valuable as the safety precautions Daddy instilled in my soul. “If you always obey the Lord,” he would tell me, “you will never have to worry about falling into sin.” Though I was too self-absorbed to grasp the value of those spiritual warnings, his wise words were waiting for me down the road when my soul was running on fumes and the spark plugs of my heart weren’t firing right.
Yes, Daddy was dorky. He was fashion-challenged and his jokes were corny. But he loved us and he was wise enough to know that as a human father, he could not keep us safe at all times, so he made sure we knew humanity’s only source of safety: “This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalm 91:2
Now that Daddy is in heaven, his obsession over safety is my obsession. In this dangerous world where words are a dime a dozen and most are not worth a penny, I find myself doing what Daddy taught me to do: pay attention and obey both God’s law and the laws of the land, and continuously educate yourself so you’re prepared for emergencies on earth and for holiness in heaven.
“Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.” (Proverbs 28:26)