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This weekend, I found myself caring for a sick toddler. Atlas came down with a cold-of-sorts this past week, and it’s left him badly congested and not quite his usual self, which has made caring for him a measure more difficult than usual; being homebound to ensure he recovers has made the days feel particularly longer.

In spite of things, we managed to have an incredible time with each other. Lots of storytime, cooking together in the kitchen and even teaching him how to shoot his bow and arrow properly were some of the highlights.

One of the things I’ve noticed during this period is that he’s unusually a light sleeper, and very prone to waking up on the middle of the night upset. Whenever I start to hear him stir, I quickly hold him and whisper into his ear: “Dad is here. You’re safe. Dad’s got you.” And it’s only a matter of time before he’s soundly asleep again.

We stayed home from our usual trip to church this morning, which is usually a welcome change of pace for the both of us; Atlas gets to play with amazing kids that he loves, and I get to connect with other parents during the service.

We took a trip down memory lane, and watched a few episodes of the “The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible” together; something I grew up watching as a child. While the short stories brought up a lot of familiar memories for me, I also saw them through the lens of being an adult. I felt like I could appreciate them in a whole new light, now that I’ve lived long enough to understand what it means to place your faith in God.

In each of the stories, there’s a familiar theme; the main character has a strong faith in God, and is able to do the seemingly impossible. From David defeating Goliath, to Noah building the ark while people mocked him.

Goliath fell at the feet of a shepherd boy. The scorners made their home at the bottom of a new sea.

David became king. Noah sailed.

Last night, I decided to put some information about one of my projects on Reddit. Surprisingly, the thread exploded with activity – with hundreds of people giving their two cents on the idea.

About 90% of the comments were critical and downright derogatory, which is a hard pill to swallow when you’re sharing your passion project with the world. However, I realized that not everybody would be a buyer for the project – and I decided to mentally tune out the scorn, reminding myself of the Theodore Roosevelt quote:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

I woke up in the morning with a mile-long list of new comments and read through all of them before Atlas opened his eyes, laying perpendicular to him at the foot of the bed while I sifted through the haters, and noticing a few people who actually understood and appreciated the project for what it will become.

Atlas woke up, saw me, gave me a huge smile and crawled down to nestle under my arms.

“Atlas, don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t.” I told him. “You can change the world.”

I was reminded of the line the character from “The Pursuit of Happyness” told his son; “ Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it.” as I spoke to Atlas.

Tonight as I comforted Atlas while he stirred, I thought a lot about the words I was telling him; “Dad’s got you.” And it made me think about how God feels about His Children.

The ones who put their trust in God will ultimately never fall short, and they will do what seems to be impossible to others.

What does God ask for in return? Well, it’s pretty simple; that due credit be given to Him. See, none of these miraculous stories would be a reality if it weren’t for divine intervention, including my own.

While the last few months have been trying for me, there’s one thing I cannot deny; an overwhelming sense of peace throughout the storm. Even in the moments where I’ve felt the most beat down, I’ve been able to cast my cares to the Almighty, who was ready to receive them with open arms.

I think life can feel a lot like Lord of the Rings sometimes. You have this journey set in front of you, and it’s filled with terrible experiences, monsters that want to eat your guts and moments where you don’t know whether or not you will make it. Yet, you persist onward in your quest.

Unlike LOTR, I think what we carry is our own selves, mistakes, choices and shame – rather than a golden ring. We go through most of this life weary because of the weight of this burden, and then we reach a crossroad where we see Jesus; the one Man who lived a blameless life, washed the feet of His Disciples, stood between a prostitute and those that wanted to kill her and who ultimately looked down on the people that murdered Him and said “Father, forgive them – they know not what they do.”

When I look at my own life choices and mistakes, I see a plague of horrible things that I’ve done. And there’s a part of me that’s felt like it’s my responsibility to somehow fix them – or pay the price for what I’ve done.

Jesus takes a look at these things and says “Put them on my back. The burden is mine to carry – not yours.”

Like LOTR, I sometimes feel like it’s on me to take these burdens and throw myself – and them – into the fire. Yet, that’s when I look up and see Jesus looking at me, with the weight of these sins already on his back – not mine.

“But you don’t deserve this” I think. “You’re the guy who FORGAVE those motherf*ckers who betrayed you, executed you and sold your clothing over a game of dice!”

He looks at me, smiles and says “Dad’s got you.” And He surrenders Himself to the fire, carrying the weight that nearly crushed me, with Him, never to burden me again.

Dad’s got you.

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