When both of my daughters were teenagers, they felt I was too overprotective. I can’t imagine why!?! Yes, I had some simple “rules” I expected them to abide by—okay, many rules. Hmmm, maybe I was a bit overzealous in performing my fatherly duties, but I was only thinking about their safety.
It was a time in life long before cell phones existed. One of my simple rules was that anytime my daughters were traveling, they were to call home when they arrived at their destination. Back then, I thought it was a simple request; I still do! The way things are in today’s world, it’s probably even more important now for parents to make such a request.
The saga began when our older daughter, Leigh, came home from college to visit one weekend. Due to a little strife, it wasn’t one of our better weekends together. When she left late that Sunday evening, as usual, I requested that she call home when she arrived. The call was to make sure she arrived safely. I got that look—you know—the rolling of her eyes as if to say, “Gimme a break Dad! It’s only a forty-mile trip—nothing is gonna happen to me!”
I hoped Leigh’s eye-rolling gesture was right, but I had a strange feeling about this particular trip. Is there such a thing as father’s intuition? I’m not sure why I had such a feeling, but it probably had something to do with the contentious atmosphere that clouded her visit. Again, having to make a simple call didn’t seem too outlandish to me.
The trip to her dorm normally took about an hour. An hour and a half passed and she had not called. It was now dark, but I wasn’t too nervous at this point. Delays happen sometimes. When my wife called Leigh’s room, her roommate answered. She told us Leigh had not arrived yet and my anxiety began to rise. After the two-hour mark passed, she still had not arrived, and my anxiety level was now hitting the red-zone level. Where was she? Could something be wrong?
My wife and I decided to drive to the university. I feared the worst and hoped for the best. Along the way, we stopped at every ravine where a car could have left the road. I searched each area with a spotlight, hoping I wouldn’t see anything—especially her car. I never realized how many ravines there were in that forty-mile stretch. Trust me, there are bunches! One by one, each area I searched revealed nothing. We breathed a momentary sigh of relief each time, but our fear of the unknown still lingered.
We completed our search of the backroads and stopped at a gas station to call the roommate again—Leigh still had not arrived. It had been three hours since we last saw her. We continued our search on the interstate highway, checking each ravine as we continued our fearful journey. Another hour passed and still no sign of Leigh.
As we continued along the interstate, the reflections of a car’s taillights were visible on the side of the road. I eased up behind the car as my heart pounded—it was my daughter’s car!
I dashed to the driver’s side and there she was—scared, trembling, and crying her heart out. She jumped out of her car and gave me the tightest hug I had ever received from her. The three of us stood there speechless with tears of joy flowing like rivers. Leigh was safe and our worst fears did not come true. Praise the Lord! She told us many cars, including a patrol car, passed by but no one stopped to help.
So, what happened? Well, the car’s gas gauge indicated half full, but in fact, it was a faulty reading; the tank was empty.
Although Leigh never had the chance to make the call because of her circumstances, several positives came out of that night. First, my daughters learned the value of honoring my simple request to call us. From then on, they never failed to call us when they arrived at their destinations. Secondly, Leigh’s no-call alerted us to a possible problem, which prompted us to start searching for our lost sheep. Finally, the days of my daughters viewing me as an overprotective father seemed to vanish. I’d like to believe they actually thought I was a wise-old man, but that would probably be stretching things too far. I was grateful for Leigh’s safety and pleased that both daughters learned some valuable life-lessons from the experience that ended well.
I hope you insist that your family, friends and loved ones make a simple call letting you know when they arrive safely at their destinations. Cell phones make doing this so much easier today. It is not being overprotective to request a call. Take it from a father who knows—it’s better to receive the rolling-eyes of “how ridiculous” than it is to live with regrets for not requesting a simple call.
Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV)
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
Luke 15 3-6 (NIV)
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
Tom Tatum – Author – 2015
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