When I was seven, I wanted a swing. The simple thought of soaring weightlessly gave me a feeling of rest in my little soul. Never for a moment did I doubt my daddy could make it happen, so I asked him, knowing he would join my joyful anticipation. Just as expected, he took on my project. My bare feet followed his footsteps as we made our way across the backyard. He adjusted his path around dozens of tall Southern pines that turned my small world into a forest of adventure. I took two steps to his one, practically running to match his long stride.
Inside his shed, he dug through a random collection of dusty, tired items he might one day need. He didn’t know any more than I did what he expected to find there. Stacking one thing on top of another, he carved a narrow trail through paint cans, rake handles, and hunting boots. Eventually, he discovered a faded gray length of rope I had never noticed during previous rummages.
Once again, cool grass beneath my feet, I skipped along beside him, following his gaze upward among the branches. Thoughtfully, he studied possibilities and searched for the perfect limb to support my swing. I chattered; he listened.
I knew he could do…would do…anything for me.
He was my hero, and I worshipped him. I felt loved and safe in his care, and his encouragement gave me the confidence to spread my wings and try new endeavors. He listened when my little voice shared big ideas, and I knew he valued my presence as much as I did his.
Our perfect climate allowed year-round outdoor play, although the occasional hurricane pushed its way across the coastline, taking some trees, leaving others. Following one fierce summer storm, a slender pine was spared—left leaning enough to notice but not enough to warrant a chainsaw. Midway, the trunk had an odd notch where it bent as though not knowing which direction was up, and it provided exactly what we needed.
My dad knotted the rope’s end to add the extra weight he needed to hurl it in the desired direction. With every attempt, I would jump off the ground as though my efforts would help it find its mark. Finally, over the curved section of the bark-covered crook it flailed before dropping earthward with the help of gravity. He tied a slip knot and pulled it taut high above where we stood gazing upward.
Eager to show this weary, seemingly useless throw-away just how much value remained, I slipped inside its loop and found my resting place. On either side of my sun-kissed face, I wrapped my hands around the rope, the worn fibers feeling silky and soft in my grasp. I soon learned to love their feel against my palms.
The long rope allowed me to reach higher than I had imagined. I discovered I could take advantage of the tree’s unnatural angle that was generously provided by the powerful storm. I would wrap the rope around the tree until no length was left, then push against the trunk with all the strength my legs could muster. I flew, spiraling faster and faster until I was completely unwound and sent gliding feet first toward the sky.
My dad often watched me, and I knew he loved seeing my happiness. He had given me a gift of joy that lasted through many seasons and escorted me from childhood through adolescence. I last remember sitting in my silky soft rope swing when I was a teenager. Oh, how I wish I could take one more trip around that tree and soar skyward with my face to the sun!
I smile, as I reflect on my childhood desires, my father’s delight when I asked for his help, and my trust in him to provide for me. What a picture of the love my Heavenly Father bestows on me! He created my desire for goodness and loves hearing my voice lifted to Him. He measures my requests and delights in providing for me. He offers the safety of His arms and proves I can trust in Him.
As I lift my face upward in adoration of His greatness, the love and safety I desire are still being provided. Like my young heart found in my earthly hero all those years ago, I now find comfort in the arms of another loving hero—a superhero—my Heavenly Father. He delights in my worship and is overjoyed when I come to Him, assuring me He will always listen when my small voice calls His name.
“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3
Wendy Lipham lives on the Alabama Gulf Coast where she has taught interview and communication skills for over twenty years. Having heard God’s call to work with young women who have experienced sexual violence and abuse, she is further inspired by the growth of her “Beautifully Broken” story group. She enjoys writing, drawing, and needlepoint. Most of all, she loves living life beside her husband and hearing the laughter of their seven grandchildren.