“We do not play with hammers.”
“Why did you flush a ball down the toilet?’
“No, we don’t color on the baby.”
These are just a sample of things I have said to my three year old in the last 24 hours. On any given day, I find myself asking the most bizarre questions and imposing the strangest rules I never dreamed of. The other day I came down from a shower and found the milk jug in the middle of the kitchen floor, a mason jar beside it, and a baby spoon floating inside of it. A couple months ago I had to “sort through” toilet contents for three straight days to look for a swallowed penny (which, thankfully, showed up). The back of my couch is covered in crayola, and I just repainted our pantry door with four layers of paint to cover purple sharpie. Today, I found almost an entire carton of blueberries eaten and a pack of deli ham on the coffee table- also half eaten. She throws fits when each divided part on her plate isn’t filled with a different food. Suddenly she doesn’t like bananas, even though she ate them every day for the last week. Some days I think she will turn into a mermaid if she stays in the bath any longer, other days it’s a fighting match just to get her dunked and clean. At preschool pick up, I pull out of line to buckle her only to reach her door to find she has jumped up in the front seat. I go to the front to get her, and of course, she hops right to the back.
Y’all. I have literally called my dad three times in the last week and have said, “Daddy, I am so sorry for EVER BEING THREE!!!!!!” He just laughs. “Dad, you don’t understand. She sharpied on the door!”… “Well, is it pretty?”… “No, it’s not pretty! Pinterest can’t even help me get it off! I have to paint it!” More laughter. I often say that Capely is the child my mother prayed I would have. To get me back. She won. And If I listen closely, I can even hear her laughter from heaven.
My girl is so. SO. exhausting. As my husband says, “She could make a preacher cuss” (something his grandma used to say about him). She literally can get my blood boiling with frustration… and steal my heart that the same time. I’m cussing in my head at the same time I’m grabbing her sweet face and kissing her all over until she giggles uncontrollably. She makes me question my sanity, but there is nothing she could ever do to make me love her less… or more for that matter.She is the most beautiful mess.
I often wonder if we are all a little like Capely in God’s eyes. The choices we make in thought or in deed. He’s not surprised, but I’m sure He shakes His head quite a bit. At least with me, I know He does. However, God has such patience with us. He is longsuffering with His children. We may choose to stray, maybe even for years. We don’t know how to turn back to Him even if we wanted to. We let the enemy drive a wedge of fear into our hearts that God is disappointed or even angry at us for the choices we make. Maybe we have done something we don’t think He could ever forgive.
We would be wrong.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, we see a son who makes incredibly poor choices that cause him to separate himself from his dad. His dad, on the other hand, stays right where he always has been. The son squanders his inheritance and lives a life of recklessness. In verse 18, we see where the son, who is now eating among filthy pigs, decides to return to his father. He knows his sin causes him to no longer be worthy of being his father’s son. He only hopes his father will treat him as his servant. Much like the son, when we stray from God and make poor choices, we listen to the voice of the enemy and assume God will have nothing to do with us if we return to Him. That He will treat us as though we do not belong to Him. That we are unforgiveable.
The son returns and the parable picks up in verse 20 as follows:
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
What! Yes, you read correctly. The father saw his son was returning and felt compassion. The son confessed his sin… I imagine his head was hung low, and I bet he couldn’t look his dad in the eye. What recklessness he had been a part of, what shame he brought to his father. Surely his father wouldn’t forgive him. Suddenly his dad is calling for the best robe to adorn his filthy son who had just left a pig’s sty. His dad throws a huge dinner celebration and is overcome with joy.
Friend. This is how God sees you. He hasn’t moved, it is you who have moved. But take heart. This parable is to portray God’s love for his children. The moment God sees your willing heart turning back to Him, He has compassion on you. The moment you confess your sin to Him, He clothes you with complete forgiveness. Not some watered-down version of forgiveness for the “worst” sinners. You get the same forgiveness Mother Teresa received, Billy Graham received, and that the thief on the cross next to Jesus received. The common denominator is a broken heart and a contrite spirit; a confession of sin. The moment you repent and ask for forgiveness is the moment your broken relationship with the Lord is restored. Completely. Because of Jesus’ blood, those of us who were once far off have been brought near (Ephesians 2:12). You don’t work for it and you cannot earn it. The prodigal son sure didn’t earn it. And neither can you. But you can receive it. From a loving Father who never moves even when we do. There is no sin you can commit that will make God love you less. There is no good deed you can do to make Him love you more. Because God is love. And He demonstrated that love by sending Jesus to die for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). It is unmerited mercy and grace.
If you have found yourself far off from the Lord… take heart. Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies that you can’t go back (or approach Him for the first time ever!).That God could never forgive you. Jesus says “Come as you are”. You don’t have to change first. You just have to have a willing heart. He will do the changing in you.
You are a beautiful mess that God loves.
From my messy trench to yours,