Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Two Different Ways We Know God Loves Us


           
My four-year-old granddaughter, Jenessa’s hug was no different than usual, her tanned arms and spindly legs wrapped around my neck and waist like summer vines. What made this hug different—and what surprised me—were her words.
            Jenessa had always said “I love you” as sweet as a grape Popsicle when she hugged me, parroting the words my husband, Kevin, and I had told her since she was born. They were the same words we’d spoken to our own two kids thousands of times, words every child deserves to hear. But this time as Jenessa snuggled against my neck she said confidently, “You love me.”
            “Yes, I do!” I laughed, embracing her tighter. I was pleased that she felt secure enough not to ask me if I loved her, but to tell me. Was she reassuring herself, or reminding me?
            I had corrected Jenessa right and left for the last five days while her two-year-old brother,
baby sister, mommy and daddy stayed with us for the week of Vacation Bible School.  “Don’t tell me you want a banana; ask ‘may I please have one?’, “Swallow your food before you tell us something; we don’t want ‘see food’ at this table, “Sit still, Honey. I can’t read to you if you keep wiggling the book.”
            I’d also cuddled and kissed and teased her. I played in the sandbox with her in the blistering heat. I watched endless episodes of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and read countless library books. I even shared my favorite chunky peach frozen yogurt with her! So Jenessa took my correction in stride, knowing that my love was the supreme motive for everything I did.
           
Similar to a loving parent or grandparent, God corrects us, sometimes more than we like. Perhaps He convicts us when we think poorly of someone, repeat a word of gossip, or speak sharply to our spouse. He’s never harsh or unkind when His still, small voice whispers in our hearts, but we know He wants us to grow more like Jesus, so we’ll be happier.
Both Solomon and the writer of Hebrews encourage us to accept this correction as a loving act: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3: 11-12; Hebrews 12:5-6, NIV).
            We also get to experience God’s fun, loving side. He makes our tomato and zucchini plants grow tons more than we’ll ever need, so we can have the joy of sharing. He sends us people who make us laugh when we’re in a bleak situation. He puts us in a family called a ‘church’ so we don’t have to bear our burdens alone. His Holy Spirit comforts us. His Word renews our hope. He shed His blood, so we could be forgiven. All of this is proof that His supreme love is the motive behind everything He does. Even correcting us.
            What else can we do but climb into His lap and, like Jenessa, say, “You love me!” 
The above story is a chapter from my book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top.