I love my job at Hope Lutheran children's summer day camps/childcare. A LOT.
And it has made me think hard lately about what it means to be a child of God.
I love those kids. My heart breaks for them. I want what is best for them. Always. I want them to be happy!! To love God. To understand and know Him. To be filled with joy over Him and to understand His love and forgiveness.
I don't want them to misbehave. I want them to do right. To love and serve God. To follow the rules. To obey me. To be kind and loving to everyone. I want this because I know it is best for them.
And when they do wrong, it saddens me. I sternly have to ask them to stop, and punish them if they continue misbehaving. But even when they are misbehaving terribly, even when they are being incredibly rude, unloving, and completely horrible beyond belief, I still love them SO MUCH. My heart aches for them. It wonders how they got like that. I want so badly for them to be on the right path. To be saved. To love God and others. And to understand God's love for them.
This has given me a glimpse into God's own heart for us. He loves us so incredibly much. Like children!!! He really wants us to do right and follow His commands. But when we do wrong He looks at us with complete mercy and compassion. And unlike me when I watch those kids, He understands completely what we are going through. He understands why we do what we do!! He understands our pain more than we do, and it saddens and pains Him. He doesn't think any of our pain or troubles are silly. Instead He wants to listen to us. He wants to hold us softly in His arms until the pain passes. He wants to hold us until we are happy to go run and play again.
He is a Dad that beams out of love for us when we do right. More than anything though, He is a Dad who beams out of love for all us no matter what. No matter how bad we are or have been!!!
He knows our names and every little detail about us. He loves to spend time with us. He loves to see us have fun. He loves to watch us doing what we love to do. He loves to meet our needs!! He loves to make us happy. He loves to scoop us into His arms, twirl us around, tickle us until we laugh so hard we cry. He is gentle and tender, compassionate, kind, merciful, patient, understanding, faithful, and gracious.
He is better than any Father we could ever imagine or dream up. He always keeps us safe. He never lets us down. He is always there. And He gently tells us again and again, "Please don't cry. Please don't worry. I forgive you. I love you. I will help you. You are so precious and beautiful to Me."
All He ever wants to do is just wrap us in His arms of love.
Thinking about all of this has made me understand His mercy and grace even better. It has made me understand how He wants us to do right and please Him for our own good. How He will punish us and ask us to do right, but ultimately how much He always love and forgives us SO much more than He is ever angry or punishing. He always looks on us with His love of the Perfect Father.
I want to love others like this. Like they are my children. With this kind of love and forgiveness. With this kind of interest in them. Willing to listen and spend time with them. Willing to lavish love on them no matter what. I also want to learn to love myself this way. That is probably hardest of all for me. I am so strict with myself. So angry at myself. And always tend to make it about works instead of grace.
I need Him. I need my Father. I desperately need His arms, mercy, compassion, and grace.
"The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will He harbor His anger forever;
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His love for those who fear Him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him;
14 for He knows how we are formed,
He remembers that we are dust."
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure."
-1 John 3:1-3