"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

11 January 2015

Grace to Cover Our Imperfect

I still fall on my face sometimes
And I can't colour inside the lines
'Cause I'm perfectly incomplete
I'm still working on my masterpiece
And I, I wanna hang with the greats
Got a way to go, but it's worth the wait
No, you haven't seen the best of me
I'm still working on my masterpiece

As we were introduced to our new sermon series this morning, talking about starting afresh in this new year, about making goals and succeeding at sticking to them, the lines from the introductory song that stuck in my head were, "I'm perfectly incomplete; I'm still working on my masterpiece." We had had a challenging morning getting out the door, and I just sank into the comfort of those words. Because God gives us the space to be imperfect, doesn't He? And He offers us the grace to accept us wholly as we are right now, not just in our mere imperfection, but in our messed up, bedraggled, harried state, because He loves us incredibly, with a daddy's adoring love for his little ones.

Today, when I picked up my little boy from church, the teacher wouldn't let him out of his classroom. Instead, he held onto B until he (the teacher) had said, "B was a very bad boy today."

Now, anyone who knows us will tell you that we are not helicopter parents. We are not overly protective of our kids, and we do not believe that our kids are special snowflakes to be handled delicately by everybody who comes in contact with them. B receives consequences for his poor choices, because like every kid, he makes plenty of them.

But we also believe that the same God who loves us also loves our children, loves them more than even we do. And we remind B (and we will tell A when she's older) of that. We also remind him that, because Jesus loves him so much, he should show others about that love by blessing them and treating them kindly, as Jesus would.

Because we know that the lessons they learn in these early, impressionable years are setting the foundation for who they will be and what they believe in their adulthood, about the world, about the people in it, and about themselves.

N and I make a point to refrain from referring to children as "bad," whether they are our own or not. Kids have good days and bad days, days when it's easy to have self-control and days when it's just plain hard. I mean, so do we as adults, right? Except we have (or should have) a better ability to control our impulses.

It broke my heart to hear someone to whom I have to entrust my child every week, in his presence, call B a "bad boy." Because he only sees B ONE out of the 168 hours in every week. He doesn't see the hours when B is sweet or the ones when he's so funny he cracks us up or the ones when he says brilliant things that make us convinced he's a prodigy (because, you know, we are his parents).

Yes, today's one hour in church was particularly difficult for B. He made bad choices. But that doesn't make him a bad boy. It makes him a human one, one that is perfectly imperfect, one that is still working on his masterpiece.

Friends, if we can be offered the immense grace of God in our brokenness, can we, in turn, offer that same grace to the smallest ones in our midst?

Yes, kids can be loud.

Yes, they can have so. much. energy.

And yes, sometimes, they have awful days.

He has a way to go. But it's worth the wait.

Just like the rest of us.

And God's grace covers ALL of that.

"My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you 
that the grace of God is with you 
no matter what happens." 
1 Peter 5:12

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