Our son was two years old when we bought him his first vehicle. The gift was, in part, to soothe his ruffled feathers for our having the audacity to have a second child. Up until this point, he had been the center of attention. Now he would have to share the spotlight—and with a baby girl, no less. So when we brought his sister home from the hospital our son was duly compensated for his pain and suffering with a shiny, new Big Wheel.
One thing about Big Wheels. Even when they’re 20 years old they still have that new Big Wheel smell. Even before we could affix the super cool decals on the frame that would have ensured his popularity among neighborhood two-year-olds our son began begging to take his new ride out for a spin. Since he had never before been allowed down the open sidewalk in front of our house he asked me to accompany him.
He rather enjoyed his newfound freedom. But I couldn’t help noticing that he would only travel a few yards at a time before turning around to make sure I was there. My presence provided the safety and security he needed. He would only proceed once he knew his protector was not far behind.
Sigmond Freud once said, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” Kids stand a little taller when they know that they have a father who stands behind them. Kids who grew up without experiencing the presence of their earthly fathers in their lives must learn they can stand tall in the presence of their Heavenly Father.
In the very first book of the Bible our Heavenly Father says, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go (Genesis 28:15, NIV). He then reiterates I will not leave you. In the Old Testament when the mantle of leadership was passed from Moses to Joshua, God said, No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5, NIV). For emphasis God then added, Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (v.9).
So much does God want to impress upon us the truth that He is always with us that He instructed that Jesus be called Immanuel. The name Immanuel is a compilation of two Hebrew words: Immanu, meaning “with us,” and El, meaning God. Our Heavenly Father is a “with us” God.
Our Father in Heaven is with us wherever we go. He is behind us to encourage us. He is beside us to befriend us. He is above us to watch over us. He is beneath us to lift us up. He is within us to give us courage. He is before us to show us the way.