I have two amazing daughters. Abbie will be five in June. She is funny, caring, and very aware of other people’s happiness. Chloe just turned one in December and is headstrong, adventurous, and loves music. (Abbie loves music too- which is good because we often have a variety of music playing. Both girls favorite toys have been, at some point, those musical birthday cards. The current one getting play features Wang Chung’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.”) Both girls bring Andrea and I a tremendous amount of joy and love.
But they are not perfect.
Abbie is in pre-school this year, and because of Andrea’s work schedule I have been the one to take the girls to daycare and preschool. This is generally not a big deal. But today, Abbie didn’t want to listen when it was time to put her coat on. In fact, she had four or five opportunities to get out of her chair to put her coat on. So she was punished. The consequences for not listening was losing her TV privileges. (Don’t read into this, we rarely have the TV on in our house- so when we do it is a treat and a real punishment to lost that right.)
As you can imagine, Abbie cried. She groaned. She whined. She even screamed. All the way to the car- and continued to cry for the first five minutes or so of our ride north to Dover.
I was nearly in tears. I hate punishing our kids. I hate it when they choose not to listen. It tears me apart to see Abbie (in this case) crying and screaming.
And then I think: Isn’t God like that with His children? God has laid out the expectations for us. Told us how to live and behave. Yet time and time again, we choose not to listen. We fall short of the standard of God’s holiness. We sin. And there are consequences for our actions. Sometimes those consequences are immediate. Sometimes the consequences don’t seem too severe. Other times they feel overwhelming.
I believe that when I sin, when we sin, that God is moved to sadness- just as I felt sadness in punishing my daughter. Why would God be moved to sadness? Because God loves us so much. Because God wants to give us a life abundant. Because God has shown us the most excellent way to live through Jesus Christ. But time and time again, we turn our backs on God.
Part way up to pre-school, I reached to the backseat of my car and held Abbie’s hand. She began to show me how see could now reach the ceiling of my car while sitting down (which is better than standing up while the car is moving). When I dropped Abbie off at school she held my hand, gave me a kiss good bye and we both said, “I love you.”
Again, tears nearly filling my eyes. But this time because grace is such a beautiful thing. Even as we turn our backs on God- God reached down to earth and gave us Jesus- the fullest displays of God’s love. It is through Jesus that God is continually saying to us, “I love you.”
Grace is a beautiful thing.