A Father’s Love and Our Survival

Macklin lay face up in the water. His 18-month-old body was gray. He wasn’t moving.

He had only been out of his parents’ sight for a few minutes that Sunday morning. The pool gate was never left open. All of the four kids had spent hours in the backyard by themselves, and nothing had ever happened—not like this.

Seeing his son, Scott pulled Macklin from the water, and into his arms. The other children gathered around. “What do we do, daddy?” they asked.

“Pray,” Scott said, and putting his mouth to Macklin’s, he began to breathe air into his dead son’s lungs.

If we believe evolutionary theory, we might say that Scott’s efforts were the result of some primal urge to survive. Like a mother bird defending her young from the attacks of a hawk, Scott was just following his instincts. Except, Scott isn’t a mother. And most fathers in the animal kingdom could care less about the survival of their offspring.

“The survival instinct… It’s what drives all of us. And it’s what’s gonna save us,” says Matt Damon’s character, Dr. Mann, in the movie, Interstellar (2014). Dr. Mann says this as he is trying to kill Cooper, the story’s hero, played by Matthew McConaughey.

Like Scott’s efforts to save Macklin, the scene begs for bigger answers to our questions about “what drives all of us”—“and what’s gonna save us.”

We know that there is something more. We know that a father doesn’t try to breathe life back into his dead son because of instinct. We know that it’s Love that’s “gonna save us.”

“Love isn’t something we invented. It’s observable. Powerful. It has to mean something… Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.” (“Amelia Brand” in Interstellar)

Scott’s love for Macklin was and is powerful. It was observable. And it wasn’t something that Scott invented.

Scott’s love is that of a father. His love for Macklin is the result of choice and affection—deep affection. He could’ve left Macklin in the pool. But, he didn’t.

One need not be a father, or a parent, to understand the type of love that Scott demonstrated for Macklin. It is the same type of love that can be experienced between siblings, extended family members, and between old friends.

When Macklin lay lifeless, his older brother and sister (ages 5 and 7) offered up this prayer:

“Dear Jesus, we’ve never had a dream like this before. Macklin is dead. Bring him back to life.”

I am thankful to say that Jesus did bring Macklin back to life, that the Geer family is not now a sorrowful 5, but a more content, more grateful 6.

I am also thankful to say that Love is what saves us, and “what’s gonna save us,” and that something more powerful and more meaningful than instinct is ensuring my survival.