Our youngest may just be the most rambunctious, tenacious, fearless and independent 5-year-old ever to have been born. (Ask the neighbors, relatives, teachers and coaches.) Affectionate, entertaining and lovable as can be, but wild and free to the nth degree. Try to steer him this way, reason with him that way, or settle him down – and you will see. (Does the apple not fall far from the tree?)
So it took Son several months to get into a good (or acceptable) groove in transitional kindergarten, meet (most of) his teacher’s behavioral expectations, and dare I hope, even win her over.
But just when Son was getting the hang of things at school, we moved away. Mid-year.
And the new schedule, new teacher, new classmates and new environment threw him off. Back to square one. Son’s new teacher, after months of training her dozens of wee minions so well, now had the squirrel-iest of ‘em all to tame. But God provided. She turned out to be the most calm and capable, firm but gentle, long-suffering and loving of ‘em all. Our Tasmanian devil flourished under her care.
Fast forward a few months. The school year ended, all parties survived, and Son loved his short but sweet time under his teacher’s tutelage. He thinks of her often and misses her dearly.
I asked him why he loves her so. His answer made me laugh and then pause.
“Because she gives lots of chances.”
And there it was.
The thing that made me fall for my Maker, my Abba, my Savior, my Teacher.
The reason I put my hope and joy in His unfailing love.
The reason I trust He accepts me, even if I’m a mess or may seem a lost cause in others’ eyes.
The reason I know my Good Shepherd won’t fail to find and help me whenever I lose my way.
The reason I can’t help loving Him back.
All summed up by a small child, in the most simple, humble and candid of explanations:
“Because He gives lots of chances.”
Our little one’s words betray so much more than a laughably telling confession. Somehow, this 5-year-old grasped that:
- he is under the authority of his teacher;
- he messes up…a lot;
- his teacher doesn’t punish him as often or as sternly as he deserves;
- she’s merciful because she cares for him and desires to help him do/be better; and
- he can’t help loving her back in the face of such grace and mercy.
Is it not the same for me and my relationship with God?
- Am I not under the ultimate authority of my Creator and my Judge?
- Don’t I mess up…a lot? (Romans 7:15-20.)
- Hasn’t God refrained from punishing me as I deserve, time and again but also once and for all?
- Didn’t Christ save me out of love and make me not just better but perfect (holy and presentable) before the Father?
- Don’t I love Him because He first loved me?
I can’t recall the pastor, the church or the year. But I remember my awe at a certain explanation of “grace” and “mercy” given during a Sunday sermon many years ago.
“Grace is when God gives you what you don’t deserve.
Mercy is when He doesn’t give you what you do deserve.”
God’s amazing “grace” is evidenced in all those unearned blessings that He pours out over our lives, just because. Just because He loves us, that is.
Let not the enemy convince us that our health, our families, our friendships and relationships, our intellect, our skills or talents, our jobs or careers, and most of all, our faith in Christ, comes from us, our efforts, or luck. God opens the doors, grants the abilities, blesses the opportunities, and sets things in motion, for His good pleasure and for our good too. (Rev. 4:11, Phil. 2:13, Rom. 8:28.) And His ultimate act of grace? He sacrificed His own Son for us, that we too might enjoy His presence and glory forever.
And God’s great “mercy” is manifested every time He refrains from imposing on us those penalties we most certainly deserve, just because. Just because He loves us.
Let not the enemy deceive us into thinking not all sins have consequences, that we don’t hurt or affect others, and most of all God, by our “bad choices.” Still, how many times and in how many ways have we done wrong, repented before the Lord, and not been punished as we deserved because God showed us mercy? And His ultimate act of mercy? He offered us the biggest “out” the world will ever know. Christ rescued us from an otherwise inescapable sentence of death, destruction and eternal separation from our Maker.
Perfect grace and mercy. Stemming from perfect love.
If our 5-year-old recognizes his imperfect teacher’s imperfect love, and loves her back because of grace and mercy shown him in a brief 3-month period, how much more should we recognize, return and share the perfect grace and mercy our perfect God has shown us our whole lives through?
After all, has anything changed my life, your life, the disciples’ lives, the apostle Paul’s life, any believer’s life like His supernatural grace and mercy has? “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, NASB)
Thank you, Lord. Thank you for giving us lots of chances. But most of all, thank you for the chance to be with you forever and ever. Amen.
*Readers, if you would like a daily dose of encouragement, subscribe to our online Christian devotional at www.ourwordscollaborative.com. A team of 30 writers spanning all ages, races and denominations share with humility and passion what only God has done, is doing, and can and will do for us. (The devotionals I pen will be posted on Day 18 of each month.) Blessings!