Dear Heavenly Father,
I love you. There are a million reasons why, but for the sake of Your trees (I initially write all my letters using pen and paper), I will only share one reason for my love. It all centers around a single person; the person that reminds me most of you. He is six feet tall, strong, and confident. He usually wears jeans and a long sleeve button-up shirt. When he’s in the sunlight, he wears a large hat from his extensive “embarrassing hat” collection. He also wears welding glasses right over his regular glasses, because sunglasses are too mainstream. He is not concerned about what most people think of him. This man also happens to be my dad.
A few years back over spring break, I took my two kids to visit my sister’s family in the small town of Garfield, Washington. When I say small, I don’t mean only a few thousand people. According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Garfield is just under six hundred. According to anyone who visits there, it seems more like fifty. I don’t know where the other five hundred fifty people are hiding. Probably in a field somewhere.
On one particular day during our trip, my Dad wanted to take me and my kids sight-seeing. This created a serious dilemma for me because my father has a habit of completely disregarding any hint of a schedule. This wouldn’t be an issue, except that my two children—Josiah, age 4, and Daisy, nearly 2—had a habit of completely disregarding their sanity if they didn’t get their snacks, meals, and naps at predictable times. Any divergence from the day’s usual schedule constituted an epic meltdown of some sort. Then, just before my brain exploded, you intervened and downloaded specific instructions into my mind. You said, “Do everything your father tells you to do today. If he says ‘turn right,’ turn right. If he says ‘turn left,’ turn left.” Having heard your voice before, I knew not to question it, but this instruction seemed doomed to fail.
I immediately started packing. We would need lunches, snacks, drinks, coloring books, Adventures in Odyssey CDs, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, etc. No time to rest. No time to read the Bible. I said out loud, “I can’t do my devotion today.” You were okay with that. I wasn’t, though. It was a refreshing part of my daily routine.
After I got my kids and our supplies packed into our hunter green Subaru Outback, my dad had me drive to the nearby convenience store. He went in and bought a map. A giant, old-fashioned, impossible to fold, paper map. Then we were off. “I want to show you the Flour Mill,” my dad said matter-of-factly. But the flour mill would have to wait. Our first destination was Steptoe Butte, a large hill with a panoramic view of the rolling countryside. The stop was a success. More than that; it was breathtaking. You created quite a spectacular view out there in the middle of nowhere. We took in the beautiful morning view and left with two contented kids. Miracle number one.
With Adventures in Odyssey playing in the back, we continued driving. At no time did I question my father’s directions. In his confident manner, he told me where to turn and when to stop. If he suspected we were heading the wrong way, he never let on. He was my pillar of cloud for the day.
Eventually, we ended up on one side of a dam that also served as a bridge. A tall chain link fence blocked our entrance. I assumed we would have to turn back, but not my dad. He spotted a sign with a phone and said, “I’m going to call that number.” Within a few minutes, a car drove across the bridge and a friendly gentleman got out and opened the fence. He directed us to the viewing center on the other side of the dam. Josiah and Daisy stared at the salmon as they leapt through fish ladders. I was astonished and grateful that Grandpa had, once again, led us to an interesting place, whether he intended to or not. Miracle number two.
Back in the parking lot, Josiah started walking backwards to be silly. Grandpa said, “Josiah, look where you’re going.” Josiah ignored his Grandpa, and ran his head into a pole. He was visibly upset, but he learned to listen to Grandpa. He got over it and we continued to drive. In all of this driving, a thought kept recurring to me, “I didn’t get to read my Bible today.” I knew that it was part of your plan for me to skip it, but I didn’t want to skip it. Without it the day felt incomplete, as if I had missed a meal.
Our final destination was the old flour mill. It didn’t sound very intriguing, but I was dead set against arguing. Even when we turned down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere, with no discernable marker, I kept my mouth shut. Fearing the worst, I assured myself, “We have plenty of food and water. We can last for days out here.” To my relief, we were soon back on pavement and entering the small town of Pomeroy. With over a thousand people, Pomeroy is the only city in the county. You can imagine how excited I was. “We’re getting close to the flour mill,” My dad said, in a tone meant to heighten our anticipation, as if he were saying, “There’s Disneyland”. All I really wanted was to get my stir-crazy kids out of the car again. That seemed to be what they wanted, too.
As the Pataha Flour Mill came into view I was pleasantly surprised to see several cars parked around it and people shuffling about. It turned out that they were finishing up choir practice. This wasn’t just some old mill; it was also a church. Most of the mill was still intact and had been converted into a museum. We walked through the old mill and I read a plaque describing a piece of machinery. Under the description was a Bible verse, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” I looked at another plaque and there was another verse. We turned into another room to see more plaques, each with a Bible verse. My exhaustion lifted as I consumed your word. I realized that my father, who had never confessed to be a Christian, brought me to a place he knew I would love. Miracle number three.
We made it home just in time for dinner and all my strength was spent. But I was thankful because I knew you had given me a wonderful gift. You told me to obey my father because you knew where we were going. You knew I didn’t need to read your story in the morning because I had a hundred verses to read in the afternoon. Overall, it was an incredible day. We took in beautiful views from the top of a hill and the bottom of a river. We learned about making bread even while reading the bread of life. Thank you for giving me the best day that I ever had with my dad. You are an amazing Father and you really do give us good gifts.
I am eternally grateful,