>This past Sunday we were eating one of our big weekend breakfasts before church- muffins, scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit (and I wonder why I’m getting so big- ha!). We were having a good ol’ lazy time of just munching on our food and lounging before having to really get up and get dressed. Well even though Steve and I were having a good time, Bailey was not. She just didn’t want to eat anything or stay in her seat and was really acting out. She kept trying to pour orange juice on her head and even started throwing some of her grapes, something she hasn’t done for like a year or so!
After a couple of firm “Stop its” and a warning, we finally had to take her out of her chair and put her in the hall corner for time-out. Now let me go ahead and say that between Steve and me, I am probably the stronger disciplinarian. I’m all about doing what you say you’ll do, not having empty threats, being very consistent, having the punishment fit the crime, things like that. Of course I do believe in doing it all in love, with many hugs and explanations and “I love yous” afterwards, but I’m not a pushover and am not at all concerned about being Bailey’s friend or hurting her feelings in regards to giving fair consequences.
But with all that said, having to punish Bailey is never something I enjoy. Even though I try to remain firm and strong on the outside, and while I know it’s for her best, on the inside it’s not a pleasant process for me. Well this particular morning while she was in time-out, I was in the kitchen cleaning up and waiting for her two minutes to be finished. And although that’s obviously a very short amount of time, I just kept thinking, “Oh I can’t wait for her to be done so she can join us again and so we can spend this Sunday morning together”. And then out of nowhere I heard God speak to my heart and say, “That’s how I feel about you when you stray and allow the sin to separate you from me.”
Wow! Now that might not come across as profound and moving as it felt to me at the time, but let me tell you, it really changed something in my heart, changed my vision and idea of God a bit.
I mean, I get the whole “sin-separates-us-from-a-perfect-God” thing, but to be honest, I never thought too much about how He felt while I was suffering for my mistakes. The idea that He would actual hate my consequences because they drag me away from Him just blew my mind! And by consequences, I don’t mean always having some big, outward punishment; I mean just being separate from Him and His holiness. It’s not that I ever feel deserted by God or that I am truly apart from Him……being a Christian who has accepted his sacrifice, I feel that all my sins – past, present, and future- are covered by what Jesus did on the cross. But sin is still sin and it does hinder my growing relationship with Him. In the same way there is nothing that Bailey can ever do that will take away my love for her and my desire to have a relationship with her, and yet I can’t allow her to go around throwing food and not sharing and hitting and things like that without having consequences. I must make sure she faces her actions, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be really loving her and helping to shape her into the beautiful person she was created to be.
And in the same way that I can’t wait to have Bailey get out of time-out and rejoin our family, God can’t wait till I acknowledge my sin and repent from it- not because He’s taking pleasure in following the rules or anything like that- but because He just can’t wait for me to be close to Him again, allowing Him to “renew a right spirit within me“. Just like I actually missed and longed for Bailey during that two measly minutes, God misses and longs for me when I decide to ignore Him and go my own way. I think He just counts down the seconds till I finally say “Uh-oh. I messed up. I need to get on my knees, go to my Father, and stop trying to do it my own selfish way.”
And then you know what’s even more amazing?? The moment after I turn to God and ask for forgiveness, He has completely, 100% forgotten whatever it is I did wrong. It is totally put out of His mind forever and ever. Again….Wow!!!
1 John 4:8 says that “God is love“, and then in 1 Corinthians 13:4 it says love “keeps no record of wrongs“. God is just so happy to have me fully back in His presence and He will never again remember or bring up what I’ve done in my past. What a beautiful, comforting truth to rejoice in! How I wish I had the ability to forget sins like that- my own and others’. When I look back and think of some of my “biggest” mistakes I just cringe and sometimes allow the guilt and shame to creep back in. But God reminds me of His love and asks, “What are you talking about? I don’t remember you doing that. It is forgiven and forgotten. I don’t want you to hurt anymore over it.” It’s like when people have a fight or falling out and they say to one another, “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget”. Ouch! But God says “I forgive and I can’t wait to forget!!!“. How much greater is He??
In a small way I feel that way with Bailey. When she gets done with her punishment I can’t wait to stop being the disciplinarian and just give her a big hug and smile with her and tell her how much I love her. Though she’s not at the age to do so now, I would hate for when she got older, to keep thinking about and bringing up the mistakes she’s made. That would break my heart. I picture her teenage years when she might get grounded for a week or whatever and I just think that the minute her grounding is over I’ll just want to get on with being with her and spending time together…..I won’t want to dwell on whatever she did wrong or have her dwell on in. Just want to be in relationship again.
Anyways. I’m sure this is a long, round about, confusing post that might not make any sense to you, and that’s ok. But I just wanted to write it out- to praise my God who continuously searches out my heart and delights in revealing His love for me (and you). It’s exciting to think what part of Himself He might share next.
Finally, I have always loved this verse for the powerful, mind-boggling imagery it brings to mind, and for the beautiful expression of love it presents: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” Psalms 103: 12. That about sums up unconditional love, huh? Well I love the Casting Crowns song that questions the verse in such a human way and asks, “Ok God, so tell me really- just HOW far is the east from the west??” And the response is perfect…….From one scarred hand to another. If you haven’t heard the song before, watch the video below and listen to the lyrics- they are beyond beautiful!