Kids are a lot of hard work.
The little ones cry a lot. They’re ruled almost completely by their emotions. And most of the time they haven’t even figured out how to use their words yet to communicate what’s wrong.
This past week we visited family. And I saw a different side of my two-year-old, Hadley, when she met her infant cousin for the first time.
As everyone–including my daughter–was focused on the baby, I couldn’t help but watching Hadley. How she mimicked my wife, Kristin. How she bent over (at not even three feet tall) to talk softly to the baby.
Having these little ones around gives us a picture into who God is.
Just like I couldn’t stop staring at my little girl, I realized, God cannot stop staring at me–and you.
That’s still a difficult concept for me to get my head around. I’ve written before, I really don’t understand grace. I accept it. And I try to pass it on. But each and every time I’m confronted by it, it seems more shocking than anything else.
Two Points and a Possible Confession
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be compassionate? (Or, this is probably about to be a confession on my part.) That guy asking for money (“get a job, then we’ll talk”). Forgiveness (“how about some repentance first”).
We have each other–whether they are our children or strangers on the street, not for what we can get, or even for what we can give. We have each other because in some way, each of us is reflecting God.
In my small group this past week, we looked at Jonah chapter 2. It’s the part where Jonah says uncle. Okay…God, you got me. I’m overboard. I’m swallowed. I’ll do what you want now: I’m sorry.
Eric Mason calls this counterfeit repentance. It’s counterfeit because Jonah’s still only focused on himself.
Giving money to a guy on the corner, picking up chairs after church, dutifully parenting your children–these things are all morally neutral. That is, we can do them with hearts pointed toward God, or we can do them with hearts absorbed in our own goodness.
God gives us these chances, every day–sometimes every hour–so that we can refocus ourselves on him.
Grace, I believe, is a learned thing. It’s certainly not earned. That’s merit. But it is learned. In theology books, this is called sanctification–growing to be more like God.
There’s the idea that once we become a Christian (give up our lives to the greater cause of Jesus), we become different people. And we are transformed, spiritually. But then there’s the rest of us, pulling up the rear, that takes some time to get its stuff together. That’s why Christians are such a mess. Because we’re a work in progress. We’re refueling mid-air. Operating in the field.
God’s value of each of us is often not our value of each other. But God knows that.
The more we think about God, and the more we interact with each other, watching how we hurt and heal and grow and learn, the more we begin to see each other as God does. As children. Each very specially created.
And that, undoubtedly, does changes us. It changes how we think. And, ultimately, it changes how we live.