A Nighttime Blessing of Gospel Love

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I sat outside my son’s room weeping. He just wouldn’t go to sleep. Tantrum followed wail followed discipline like cackles follow hyenas following prey. He wouldn’t listen. 10, 11, 12 times he wouldn’t listen. 13, 14, 15, times I was forced to discipline.

I sat in the hall that connects his room to mine just waiting to repeat the whole grisly thing. Outside his door, he can just see me, and he calms. His sobs catch between the deep inhalations of nearing sleep.

It’s then, in his calmness, in his finally-you’ve-obeyed silence, that I want to be near him. Once he’s nearly asleep I entertain his manipulative cries of “I just want to snuggle you!” Only an hour before, my son had spilt water on the carpet, behind a bookshelf, and on top of many books. It was an accident.Frustrated, I got up quickly and sighed heavily as I sopped up the water while my daughter repeated, “What happened, Daddy? What happened, Daddy? What happened, Daddy?” long enough for me to decide to respond only once she stopped asking.

And then I see it – how unlike God really I am.

I only answer my daughter if she doesn’t annoy me.

I’m most inclined to comfort my son if he obeys.

But Israel was far worse in their nagging, disobedience, and disregard for God’s commands than either of my children are to mine. And while, yes, God often responded with discipline, he never suspended his grace because of their behavior. His presence and attention weren’t dangled as carrots, his silence not threatened as stick. It was while Israelites were still needy slaves and idolatrous worshippers that he revealed his presence on Mt Sinai. it was while I was still an enemy Jesus died for me on Mt. Calvary.

Grace, grace, grace defines God’s fatherhood. But would my children define mine the same way? I’m often more interested in getting what I’m owed. I, the morally superior and knowledgeable father, have been wronged and deserve respect and obedience. (And to go to bed uninterrupted, when I want.)  But this isn’t how God uses his moral superiority and knowledge. God’s moral superiority – his holiness – is unique.

It’s unique because he is what I wish I was for my kids. God is perfectly what I am only in part. On the floor in the hall I wept that while God metes out both discipline and mercy in perfect measure, the scales of my parental justice are always weighted.

As my son cradles his bunny and his eyes close, I silently cradle him. My eyes wet and stain his pillow as I wonder, “What will he remember about me?” My lips mouth for mercy that God would show me his fatherhood in a way that would – finally – change mine.

I then thank God that by some divine providence I found a nighttime blessing on (ironically enough) outrage-prone Twitter. I tried to find the original author but have come up empty. I pray this blesses all the parents out there who wish they were the parents God has been to them.

A NIGHTTIME BLESSING OF GOSPEL LOVE

Parent:Do you see my eyes?

Child: Yes.

Parent: Do you see that I see your eyes?

Child: Yes.

Parent: Do you know that I love you?

Child: Yes.

Parent: Do you know that I love you no matter what good things you do?

Child: Yes

Parent: Do you know that I love you no matter what bad things you do?

Child: Yes

Parent: Who else loves you like that?

Child: God does.

Parent: Even more than me?

Child: Yes.

Parent: Rest in that love.

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