On a recent family camping trip, one of my daughters learned a painful lesson. We came one afternoon to a beautiful camping spot along the Snake River. No sooner had we pulled in than my youngest daughter and one of her older sisters took off exploring. Now, you got to picture this: I could see a four-year-old girl, a ten-year-old girl, and all these cliffs and monstrous boulders. I may be a doting father, but I was a little concerned. So I warned them.
“Now promise me you won’t be climbing around on these slippery rocks.”
“Okay – yeah sure, Dad – whatever you say.” was kind of like the response I got. So I looked at the older girl and I said again, “Now, please make sure that Shaina stays off those rocks. Okay?
“I will, Dad,”
Well, I knew I couldn’t follow them around forever, so I left them and went back to camp. It wasn’t too long later that my son came running up to me and said in something of a frantic tone,
“Dad, Shaina’s hurt.”
Well, I bailed out of my chair and I ran to find her. I met her mother carrying her back to camp cradled in her arms. Even from a distance I could tell that she was hurt. She wasn’t just crying, she was screaming. I ran and gathered her in my arms. When I looked down at her face, I was nearly sick. Beginning at the bridge of her nose and spreading outward was this horrible swelling and discoloration, and it had just barely happened. I asked them what had happened and was told that when her sister hadn’t been with her, she had – yeah you guessed it – she had climbed up on a rock, slipped, fell, and struck her nose on that same rock.
Well, her mother and I worked over her for a long time until we were finally able to get her to calm down and determine the extent of the injury. As I held her in my arms and she writhed and screamed in pain, I wanted to scream too. I don’t know how to say this but I felt her pain. I would have done anything at that point to have transferred that injury and pain to myself, or at least have lessened it for her, and I would have done it gladly.
Near the end of the ordeal as she was finally able to find her voice, she whimpered, “Daddy, I wish I’d never crawled up on that rock.”
All I could say was, “I wish you hadn’t either, Honey.”
Now I’ve thought about that since it happened. I wonder if that’s what it’s like for our Father in Heaven. I know that repeatedly He warns us to stay off the rocks, but some of us don’t. And if it brings joy to Him when we repent as the Savior said it did, then so too it must tear at His heart when His children suffer. How could it be otherwise?
Now, if you’re one of those like me who has slipped on the rocks, or even been pushed off by someone else, I invite you not to suffer alone, but to return to that Father who was called by John ‘love,’ and curl up in the arms of His mercy. Let Him cradle you. Cry unto Him in your hour of pain, and I promise you if you do, that your suffering will last only as long and be only as painful as is necessary for your eternal education, and it will then end. He will see to that!
Glenn Rawson’s experience at Massacre Rocks State Park in April 15, 1998.