For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:14-15 NRS)
There have been some awful stories in the news of late. Serena Williams' foul tirade, Joe Wilson's catcall during a presidential address, a husband-wife team of kidnappers and sexual sadists — the litany of human behaviors ranging from insufferably rude to downright evil just goes on and on. There will be more.
But last week there was a truly wonderful story in the news for a couple of days that deserves one more telling. It is proof that some fathers understand what really matters. They aren't insensitive slobs who ignore or abuse kids. They don't stomp on hearts. They are good guys who love their families and do right.
It's the story of the young Monforto family — Steve and Kathleen, with daughters Emily and Cecilia. They live in Laurel Springs, New Jersey, and like baseball. On a recent Tuesday night, they were in the first row of an upper deck along the third-base side of the field for a Phillies home game against the Nationals.
With Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth at the plate, Steve saw a foul ball headed his way. He leaned over, extended his hands, and made a good catch. It was his first-ever foul ball at a game! He smiled, exchanged fist bumps with people in his section, and put the newfound treasure in the hands of three-year-old Emily. Dressed in her pink shirt and Phillies cap, she promptly tossed it over the railing to the fans below! Daddy Steve's arms went up and his jaw dropped.
At the same instant, Emily turned toward Dad — and sensed she may have done something wrong. Maybe it was the groans of all the fans nearby. Maybe it was the look on Dad's face. Then Steve reacted. He smiled at her, took his little girl into his arms, and kissed her. His immediate concern was to reassure her.
"When she threw it over, I kind of gasped and was like, 'Oh, no! There it goes.' But then the look on her face was that she may have done something wrong," he said, "so I wanted her to know that she didn't do anything bad."
The episode was caught by the camera crew broadcasting the game that night. It was played immediately on the stadium screen — and the crowd cheered. It has been played countless times since on Internet video.*
It's a good way for you to visualize your own Heavenly Father. He isn't in the business of chiding and punishing. His concern is to reassure his daughters and sons that each of us can be all he created us to be. That's good news.
As for Emily, her Dad jokes that she is getting offers to pitch.
*If you receive this by email, you can see the video with the article by going to http://tinyurl.com/hl20091012