At a young age, I was terribly petrified of parades. I went to one where I witnessed men dressed up in devil costumes jump off of a float, grab women from the crowd and smear black face paint all over them. All the screaming, the fear and one woman running into her home while being chased, scared the pants off of me. From that moment on, if I was forced to go, I sat in the front seat of the car with the windows rolled up and the doors locked. I had seen enough parades at the ripe age of five.
Our family made a yearly road trip to see friends who had been my parents next door neighbors. Usually, we did this in July when the town hosted a celebration complete with fireworks and a dreaded parade. Because my mom was a parade enthusiast, a daughter of the family we were visting volunteered to stay with me while everyone else went downtown for the activities.
It was a scorching hot day and there was no air conditioning in the house, so I wandered outside. Minutes after my parents left, the babysitter came to me and said,
“I want to go to the parade. Do you want to come?”
“No,” I said fearfully.
“Well, I am going. I’ll see you later.”
She took off and left me. I sat on the lawn for awhile and became bored. The boredom led to missing my mother and other family members so I got the bright idea to go in search of them. I began walking down the street and was instantly surrounded by people pushing strollers and teenagers laughing hysterically. Panic set in, so I decided to go back the way I had come from. When I attempted to do that, I discovered I could not find my way back to the house because I had somehow gotten off of the original street I had started on.
I turned back to the crowd, but this time I was running. I dashed past a police officer, but he didn’t seem to acknowledge that I was lost, and I was too afraid to stop and tell him. My sandals proved to be inadequate running shoes. I kept stubbing my toes causing them to bleed.
A tightness in my chest continued to grow as I looked at all the kids with their parents. I choked back sobs that wanted to spill forward as I ran to find my mother. I could no longer contain my erupting tears as I sprinted through a blur of noise and people.
At one point, I had to slow down when the crowd became thick. The vice in my chest made it hard to breathe. I stood on my cracked and bleeding tip toes to see over the crowd in front of me. I saw vendors selling candy and popcorn. Clowns were making balloon animals for smiling excited kids while I was sweating, bleeding, dehydrated and fatigued. Over all the commotion I heard,
I froze. I thought I had imagined someone calling my name. It sounded like a whisper, and then I heard it again. I turned to my left and looked upward to see people sitting on a hill in someone’s backyard. I scanned all the faces looking for someone I recognized. Disappointment struck as strangers stared back at me. Then I saw him waving his arms and yelling,
“Chris! Up here! Chris!”
I shoved my way past the crowd and scaled the steps to get to my dad who was hollering my name at the top of his lungs. Suddenly my fatigue and pain diminshed as I threw my arms around my father’s waist. Within moments I was slurping down the coldest rootbeer in town while my mom applied ointment and banadges to my toes. Ever the nurse, she had a first aid kit in her bag. The annoyance on her face as she talked to me about being left home alone was quite evident.
My dad explained to me later that he had just happened to glance down toward the street and in the throng of people, he had spotted my tearstained little face. He immediately began screaming my name. The miracle of that rescue mission still amazes me today. Some unseen force guided me to my parents virtually unharmed. Any number of things could have happened, but everything had gone perfectly right in the end.
This paints a stunning picture of the love of God. While we go about our days in a panic or we chase down the next thing that we think will make us happy, heaven is calling out to us to get our attention. Maybe some of us have taken the wrong turn or the wrong road, and we cannot find our way back. God is trying to rescue us from all of that torment and give us a rest if we would allow it. The still small voice will never be loud like that of the world, nor will it ever be instrusive, but it will always be of great benefit to listen to my Father’s voice.