Sometimes I see the gospel reflected most clearly in my children. And it’s not always pretty.
“Maaaamaaaa!” My six-year-old screamed and wailed and gasped for air. I stood in the hallway with my ear to her bedroom door, listening to this royal tantrum.
“Sweetheart, please calm down. If you stop screaming, I will come in.” I studied the handmade posters taped to the door. One said, I am at work—please knock. The other, No dinosors allowed. Precious signs of the sweet child that once lived inside the maniac I was talking to now.
“Maaamaaaa!” Her sobbing intensified. My heart lurched in my chest because darnitall, she’d done it to herself, you know? Twenty minutes earlier she’d sassed me in the kitchen and I called her on it. She knows one of our three core family rules is “no sassy talk.” So she owed me an apology.
But she refused to give it.
Stubborn little bug.
So I had to follow through. “Go to your room and talk to Jesus.”
“Noooo!!! I don’t WANT to!”
“If you do not apologize, you will lose the privilege of going on our family bike ride. You will have to stay home.” Which means your mother will have to stay home, too, grrrr. “Please, sweetheart. Make the right choice.”
She did not. Which brought us to the hallway, where after listening to my daughter work herself into a grand tizzy, I attempted once again to sweet talk some sense into her.
“Calm down, my love. I’m right here outside the door.”
“No!!” More wailing.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. Say you’re sorry and everything will be fixed.”
“Baby, you’re choosing this tantrum. Just do the right thing, and I can open the door.”
I will set you free.
Hmmm. Who does that sound like?
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:20–21).
We’re all stubborn, really. We want what we want, and we hate it when God has other ideas. So sometimes we fight him and kick him and refuse to give in. We grab hold of our mistakes or our bad choices and wrap them around us like a shield from God’s grace. Because hey, accepting grace is like admitting defeat, right? It’s like acknowledging we were wrong in the first place. So we’d rather suffer. We’d rather stand in our bedrooms howling and missing out on the proverbial bike ride.
But the Lord is standing just inches away, separated only by the door of our own stinking pride. He’s pleading, please child, do the right thing. This will not go well for you if you don’t. Trust me. Let me guide you. You just need to be willing to break a little—and I will be right here, ready to fix you.
God is such a loving parent. I want to be like Him.
Finally my daughter’s sniffling subsided, so I turned the knob and opened the door. She stood three feet away, her cheeks streaked red with tears, and choked out a single word.
I opened my arms and she flew into them, and we hugged each other tight.
“I forgive you! I am so proud of you! You made the right choice!”
And just like that, my sweet dinosor girl was back. I carried her to the kitchen and into the garage, where Daddy and big sister doled out the bike helmets and we all enjoyed that ride after all.
So let me ask. What rules have you broken lately requiring an apology to God? Are you offering it up willingly or are you digging in your heels? And by the way, how’s that working out for you?
Whatever you need to turn over to Jesus today in exchange for his mercy and grace, will you do it? Take a cue from my daughter. Hissy fits only keep us grounded from the fun. After she cracked her stubborn will and chose God’s way, we didn’t just go on that bike ride. We got ice cream and popcorn afterwards.
Why? Because our God is awesome like that.
“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14).