Although my three-year-old daughter, Renee, is improving, for the better part of her life, she has antagonized her four-year-old sister, Daniela, quite a lot. She will do things like walk up to her sister and gratuitously punch her or sneak up and pull a pillow out from under her sister’s head just for fun.
It sounds funny, but when you’re watching this stuff unfold over and over again, it gets old. So you find yourself pleading with God to change your child’s heart and hoping He will get started on that before she does any real damage.
As it turns out, we have been seeing Renee soften up a lot lately, but nothing prepared us for what happened a few days ago.
My wife was at home with the girls, sitting on our back deck with Renee. Daniela was riding her bike around on the sidewalk in our backyard. The next thing my wife knew, she noticed that Renee was smiling as she watched her sister – but she wasn’t just smiling, she was beaming.
When my wife asked Renee what she was doing, she said she was watching her sister. But the more my wife took note of Renee’s expression, the more she realized that Renee was, for some reason, utterly delighting in Daniela. Renee’s eyes were bright, and she almost laughed as she watched Daniela ride back and forth. This went on for quite a while.
Unfortunately, though, the moment ended far too suddenly when little Renee called out to Daniela, and Daniela looked up and rudely put her hand up like a police officer telling people to stop (we don’t know where the girls got that, but they’ve been doing it to each other lately). My wife corrected Daniela, and the sweetness of the moment evaporated shortly thereafter.
Daniela didn’t really know what she basically told Renee to talk to the hand. She didn’t have any idea the kind of love that was being lavished on her – she just reacted out of habit. I think we do that a lot with the Lord.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God,” says 1 John 3:1. This is the same Father who “takes delight in His people” (Psalm 149:4) and “rejoice[s] over [us] with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17).
There’s all this active loving, delighting, rejoicing, and singing coming from our Heavenly Father; and so many days, we miss it – but not only do we miss it, we sometimes reflexively push back against it. Our little minds don’t have the capacity to understand that kind of love, because we’ve forgotten what makes us so lovely: that His Son came down here and became our sin, which died with Him on the cross, leaving nothing but perfect beauty inside those of us who have received Jesus’ goodness in exchange (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Let’s think about that for a moment, then take a deep breath, and look with the eyes of our hearts into the face of our Father God. He is rejoicing over us, beaming, singing – and thanks to His nail-scarred Son, Jesus, He has every reason to do so.