I had something of a panic attack at lunchtime today.

I think I became a father.

Okay, technically, I became a father over a year ago, and I’ve spent that year changing my share of diapers, feeding, rocking, going to doctor’s appointments, reading bedtime stories and all the other tasks involved. As a work-from-home dad, I’ve probably more than earned my “parenting” merit badge.

But today, I looked at my fourteen-month old daughter, happily rubbing oatmeal into her hair, smiling her “cheesy smile” at me, and innocently oblivious of the pain and darkness that shadow us all, and it was as though a fist tightened around my heart as I thought, for the first time in my life, “My God, I’ve got to make this world a better place.”

I would like to say that I had a strong sense of social responsibility before she was born, but that would be a lie. I was, after all, a survivor…other people should be to. I’d grown up in tough times, I’d survived the hard places…the world was what it was and you either survived or you didn’t…natural selection right?

Suck it up.

But now, everything has changed. Billions of human beings on the planet, millions within hours of me, hundreds that I came in contact with everyday for almost forty years…never forced my eyes open like this one small person who sleeps across the hall.

I’m no longer have the luxury of being a survivor…now I’m a father.

How can I turn a blind eye to the evil and suffering around me, knowing that someday I will have to turn my baby girl loose into it?

How can I overlook, dismiss, and justify my own weaknesses, knowing that they will shape and mold the person she will become.

Looking at her, I want to put an end to war, I want to end hunger…I want to put on a cape and leap tall buildings…

But I can’t.

Macho fantasies aside, what can I really do? I am only slightly less powerless, helpless, and vulnerable than my baby. I hold to my illusions of ability, and strength, and sustainability only because admitting the reality it too terrifying. I can’t even protect myself, how am I going to protect her?

But, what if I could?

What would I do; what would I endure; what would I sacrifice to save her, this precious child who owns my heart, from the pain of life in a fallen world?

…is this an inkling of what Jesus feels for each of us?

 My God!