By Nathan C. Vance
My wife’s birthday is December 15th and, like all December children, she sometimes feels like her special day is an afterthought to Christmas. While I completely understand this, sometimes it’s hard to get all of the people we love together at the same time to celebrate her with all of the other holiday festivities and I’m afraid that I have fallen short in the past. But not this year. This year, we decided to take a trip to Holmes Beach in south Florida. We left on December 16th and made it back in time to spend Christmas with our loved ones. Great idea…
So on the 16th, we were about three hours down the road when, out of nowhere, our two-year-old son started puking. It was a lot of puke. It was milk and it smelled horrible. It was not the way we wanted to start. But, as we exited to a gas station in central Tennessee, he seemed perfectly fine, save for the rotten regurgitated milk that was all over both him and his car seat. No worries, dad bought wipes and Febreeze to clean and disinfect the car while mom changed his clothes. We lingered there for about an hour to let his stomach settle to make sure he was all good and then, when it was apparent that there wouldn’t be a second act, we got back on the interstate and on the way to sunny Florida we went.
We only stopped five more times to clean vomit and change clothes that day. In fact, we had to buy new clothes because it was forty degrees in Georgia and we had packed mostly shorts for the beach. There were moments that we contemplated turning around and going home but we were beyond the halfway point and he was such a trouper. He just wanted to watch Winnie the Pooh and be left alone. So we pressed on.
Our first night was reserved in Orlando so we could see family and then on to the beach. It only took 18 and a half hours to make the 12 hour drive there. But we made it. And miraculously, Jude woke up the next morning feeling fine, acting fine, and even more miraculously, there were no more incidents. In hind sight, I’m thrilled my son was so incredibly good in spite of the circumstances and, knowing now that he’s ok, it’s a pretty funny story to tell.
Once we got to Holmes beach, the trip was great. The town was quiet. The property where we stayed was clean. The weather was perfect. The other tourists were very friendly. And we had fun. All in all, my wife’s birthday was a success!
Thanks for reading my backstory—now on to the meat.
The first morning, Jude and I were playing at the edge of the ocean. It was magical. He was having so much fun and I was loving every second of it. And, as the ocean waves would tumble and invade the shore, he would run screaming gleefully away from it yelling “Don’t get me!” And his laugh was incredible. My wife laughs at what a softy I’ve become but the whole scene nearly brought tears to my eyes. It honestly felt like a little bit of heaven right here on earth.
We played this game for a while. Eventually, his courage grew and he would go out a little further and a little further into the water and then the small rushing wave was too strong and knocked him to the soft white sand below. My wife hurried to him and “saved him” from the mean old ocean. Shockingly, he never cried but it was a moment of awakening for him as he saw how mighty the ocean really is.
From there, he was a little bit hesitant to try it again. “I’m scared, daddy. It might get me again,” he would say.
My mind scrambled for a moment. “What do I tell him? How do I let my son know that he’ll be ok as long as he understands the power of the water and learns to enjoy it with a healthy respect rather than an alarming fear?” And as quickly as I could think the question, the answer came.
In Job 38:4-11 God says to Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt?’”
So he and I had a talk. Jude is extremely advanced for a two-year-old. His communication skills are off the charts (not that I’m biased or anything). So, I may talk to him in a way that seems a little crazy but I asked him, “Are you afraid the water is going to come up and get us?”
“Yeah,” he said sheepishly.
“And that makes it less fun to play out here?”
“Yeah, I’m scared.”
So I said, “Do you want me to tell you a secret?”
His face perked up as if to say, “Duh, dad! Of course I do.”
So I went on, “There was a man named Job who had a lot of questions and a lot of fear after bad things happened to him. And, in his questioning, God answered him. He told Job that he was the one who told proud waves where to stop.” My son looked up at me and I pointed to the place where the waves stopped on the sand and went on saying, “See buddy, those waves can’t come any farther than that. They have been ordered where to stop. And as long as we stay on the sand, they can’t get us.”
He thought for a moment, and then he grinned and pointed down at our feet and asked, “Right here?”
“We are absolutely safe right here,” I replied fondly.
And the fear was gone. Somehow my incredible two-year-old pride and joy understood what I was saying and he played freely for the rest of the week. He even eventually made his way back out to the water.
I realize that for many in the scientific community, that explanation wouldn’t satisfy, but for me and mine, we believe in the infallible Word of God. I’m thankful that it is already shaping the heart and mind of my wonderful son. And I’m so grateful that explanation calmed his fears so that he, and we, could enjoy my wife’s December birthday vacation.