Not everyone is blessed to live beside one of their dearest friends. It's rare this day in age to have a neighbor who is experiencing the same life stage you're currently in AND who shares your same passions and convictions on just about any topic. This is one of many reasons why I am so blessed. I have a friend like this and her name is Dana. Her little boy, who you'll here a little more about, is two weeks older than my Addi-Grace. They are best buds and enjoy any time they can spend together. On a regular basis Dana and I get together to swap stories and offer encouragement while our kiddos play. She never fails to help point my heart to the gospel. So, today, I wanted to share a bit of her wisdom with you. I only hope you can enjoy and appreciate her perspective half as much as I do, for you will still be immeasurably blessed!
My two little ones are quite little. Eva is 6 months old and cute as a button. Noah is almost three and in the throws of potty training and, well, the foolishness that so often marks the life of a two year old. In light of this, I have been thinking about how we are invited to "boldly approach [God's] throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV). Now, obviously my sin before our perfect God is infinitely worse than that of my toddler's before me. Heck! My sin at this point in our lives in comparably horrific next to my son's (pride, jealousy, bitterness, lust)! And yet God calls me to come to Him with confidence because Jesus has paved the path for peace with this perfect God. I know, because the Bible is crystal clear, that I can find grace and mercy and forgiveness at the throne of ALMIGHTY GOD when I come with a heart that is sorry for my sin, depending on Jesus as my righteousness, and seeking to be embraced by my perfect heavenly Daddy (1 John 1:9).
Meanwhile, my dear little two year-old is not always confident about approaching his mama. Why? Because he decided to paint the walls with urine and comb his hair with the toilet brush. Is not my sin so infinitely worse than his exploratory toddler mishaps? Yet, Jesus invites me to come boldly to his throne. I will find grace there. But will my son find grace with me? How can I correct him in a way that keeps him confident that he can always find forgiveness with me? How can I teach him to rightfully fear consequences for foolishness, but not to fear the mommy who may need to dole out the consequences? I want to strike a balance between the ideas that God's kindness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and yet God also disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6).
I don't have the perfect answer, but what I do know is that my boy's confidence will not grow with a mommy who is bitter and fuming all afternoon. My boy will not come running in repentance to someone who is pouting, angry, and wallowing in self pity over a sicko bathroom that needs top-to-bottom sanitation. Confidence will come when forgiveness is truly available -- quick, real, and complete forgiveness-- and joyful relationship is restored! Just like our reconciliation with our God who does not treat us as our sins deserve. Praise Him! (Psalm 103:1)
The other certainty I have is that reconciliation with God comes at a price. Jesus died for me so that I can approach the throne of God with confidence that I will find grace there. Surely I can endure a little suffering, discomfort, and inconvenience with my children -- not so they can get away with things and trample grace, but so they might get a taste of the reconciliation available to them through their Creator and King, Jesus Christ. It's only a shadow of this greater reality, but it's something. And it's worth it.