I remember when my son, John Luke, was eight years old and I was visiting with a friend. Our cookie jar was on top of the refrigerator with lots of chocolate chip cookies; John Luke’s favorites! He knew I would say no at that time of the day, so he climbed on a chair and retrieved the jar. Eating one or two cookies was no problem … three or four … nine, ten …
I knew something was wrong when John Luke called downstairs and said he was not feeling well and didn’t think he wanted anything to eat at dinnertime. I found him crouched down in the bathroom, clutching his middle and tearfully ready to confess what he had done.
I got some stomach medicine from the cabinet and helped John Luke to bed. I brought him some water to sip and said ‘well it’s no dessert for you for a while.’ John Luke look at me and asked why I was not mad at him. I laughed and told him I had been where he was before; believe it or not I had been a little girl! I then asked him if I had ever told him why I didn’t like apples … that there was a time I did. He told me no. I shared with him how, when I was his age, a friend and I sneaked into our neighbor’s garden and ate many apples from their tree. I was sick for days. I told him disobeying was wrong, but I knew how he was feeling.
I think this story can reflect an aspect of our journey with God. He entered into our world, He was fully God and fully human. The fully human part is often hard for us to comprehend. Jesus walked through life; experiencing joy, pain, betrayal, corruption, lies. Although Jesus never disobeyed and didn’t have to live with the consequences, He experienced emotions just like us. He knows how we feel, and not from a distance; He has experienced them Himself.
Just like I held my little boy when he was in pain and sick, Jesus is with us; He cares, He is listening and He is for us. Yes, there are consequences to our actions, but we don’t ever have to run from Him, thinking He doesn’t understand. He does and He will walk with us through whatever it is; He may deliver us from the consequences of our choices or He may not; but He is always there and loves us beyond all we can imagine.
Have there been times you have been scared of God, afraid of what He might do to you, or felt very shameful? Do you believe He still loves you, wants to be with you and just wants you to come to Him?
I was always so afraid of God and ran from Him. I was scared of Him, thought He was waiting for me to do something wrong and would punish me if I did. I thought I had to perform perfectly for Him. I didn’t believe God was for me.
Listen to this song. It is called Incredible Grace. One of the lines in the song is ‘He kneels to meet our gaze.’ This is an amazing picture: that God actually kneels to see me; He cares about me. These words have become so real to me and have made such a difference in how I relate to God. Take a few moments to ask yourself: Is there a place in your story where you need to invite God to reveal His intimate presence and incredible grace to you? Do you need to see Him kneeling down, gazing at you?
Like I held John Luke when he was sick, see God put His arms around you. Even when you have messed up, He is there … in love with you, and He will show you incredible grace. As you become more and more aware of this, you will no longer be scared of Him, but you will be drawn to Him and have an excitement, a desire to love Him; obedience will then become so much easier.
You Are Beloved
“Personally, as my struggle reveals, I don’t often “feel” like a beloved child of God. But I know that that is my most primal identity, and I know that I must choose it above and beyond my hesitations. Strong emotions, self-rejection, and even self-hatred justifiably toss you about, but you are free to respond as you will. You are not what others, or even you, think about yourself. You are not what you do. You are not what you have. You are a full member of the human family, having been known before you were conceived and molded in your mother’s womb. In times when you feel bad about yourself, try to choose to remain true to the truth of who you really are. Look in the mirror each day and claim your true identity. Act ahead of your feelings and trust that one day your feelings will match your convictions. Choose now and continue to choose this incredible truth. As a spiritual practice, claim and reclaim your primal identity as beloved daughter or son of a personal Creator.”
– Henri Nouwen
Incredible Grace by Becky Frith
(From the Album Incredible Grace, which can be bought from iTunes or www.beckyfrithmusic.com)
Grace, incredible grace
Majesty that kneels to meet my gaze
Grace, incredible grace
Overwhelms my heart again and again
Perfect love that covers me
Sees what I can’t see
Blinded by my fear and failures
Here my hope can live again
Safe within this realm of love
Arms of love that carry me
Reach to steady me
When I feel my feet are slipping
Grace that does what I can’t do
Grace will lead me home to You