I was five years old, we lived in El Cajon, California, and the church building dad and the deacons built was completed. I was allowed to run in and around the building during certain phases of construction; but after completion, running in church was not allowed.
But I didn’t always obey my parents.
Reddy was my best friend, and when daddy wasn’t watching, we liked to run up the long flight of stairs on one side of the sanctuary, race in the upstairs hallway, and run down the stairs on the other side.
Dad warned me with, “I’ll tan your hide if you don’t obey me.” But for some reason, I did it anyway. I also went into his church office whenever I wanted to. After all, I was the pastor’s kid.
One Sunday morning dad had a personnel issue to handle, and told me to stay out of his office. I could obey that order. Until …
I told Reddy that Daddy was busy so we could run. “Goody!” Reddy almost shouted.
Up one side we ran, down the hall we raced, and ran down the steps on the other side. But getting ready to run down the steps on the second round, I tripped on the top step.
I tumbled head-over-heels all the way down. Miraculously, not a bone was broken and I wasn’t even bleeding anywhere. But my breathing mechanism had totally shut down!
In that situation, there was only one thing to do – Go See Daddy!
Not breathing, I burst into his office. Dad turned and was about to order me back out but saw that my face was turning blue and my mouth was wide open.
“Oh, my Lord!” I remember hearing dad say.
He quickly placed me over his knee, gave me a hard whack on the back which restarted my breathing, and said, “That’ll take care of you ‘til we get home!”
Now I had a different problem.
Back home after the church meeting, dad asked me what had happened. Fearfully, I admitted that I disobeyed him and tumbled down the stairs as I was running. (The picture is dad holding my sister, Sharon.)
I was amazed – and relieved – when dad pronounced, “Tumbling down the stairs was your punishment – this time.” Then pulling me to himself and wrapping his arms around me, he gently said, “Eugene, that fall was a hard lesson. Do you think you can remember not to run in church?”
There was only one answer: “Yes, daddy. I won’t run in church again.”
And I never did.
Three years later, we lived in Baldwin Park, California, and dad was in his final year of preparation to re-enter the US Navy as a chaplain. His schedule of seminary classes, being a pastor-husband-father, and sneaking in a few hours of sleep whenever possible, was quite full.
One Friday when I was sitting at the kitchen table with dad as he was finalizing his sermon for the coming Sunday, mom told me it was time for bed.
“Can I stay up with Daddy for a while?”
“No; it’s time for bed. Come on.”
“Can I PLEASE stay up for a little while? I don’t get to see Daddy very much.”
Dad looked up and said, “Eugene, if you want to stay up with me, you need to be very quiet. Don’t make a sound.”
“I’ll be quiet.” I never said something that fast before in my life.
Mom gave me a pencil (no pens back then), and dad gave me some paper. I was in heaven for another hour with my daddy. I have no idea what I wrote, scribbled, or doodled that night, but I remember the extreme joy of being with my daddy. And the well-worn Bible that dad was using that night is now in my office.
Dad is in heaven and our communication is over until I get there. But I do have the extreme joy of spending time with God – my eternal Father in heaven. He enjoys my visits.
God has an open-door policy, and continually invites us into His presence. Have you visited Him lately?