"Mom, do you think God likes me?"
Big, earnest eyes were begging an honest answer. The little guy has been through a challenging couple of weeks, learning difficult lessons about decisions and consequences and self-control. Giants for the best of us, much less a little boy. After failing yet again, an important question surfaces: I believe God forgives me, but does He like me?
My parenting experiences have given my a much deeper understanding of God's Father heart. We're imperfect parents and we love our kids so much--how much greater is the love of the Perfect Father? (Luke 11:11)
My love for my son hasn't lessened one bit as he's been experiencing this "learning curve". If anything, I'm more aware than ever how much I love him. There's nothing I wouldn't do right now to help him over this hurdle. How much more our heavenly Father...? He went to the extreme lengths of sacrificing His Son to make a way for us imperfect, fumbling children to be reconnected with Him. Everything about the life of Jesus expresses His huge yearning for relationship with us. His Holy Spirit is freely available to us to comfort and encourage and strengthen us as we face "giants".
And then there's the whole discipline thing... It's tough to let my son face the consequences of his decisions. Not rescuing our kids from consequences has required greater strength than lots of other things I've had to do. How much more our heavenly Father...? I think I understand a little more of how much it must make His heart ache when choose to ignore the commandments He's given to us for our own well being. How often has He had to endure our whining and acting like a victim when what is happening is simply the consequence of our choice to ignore His way and choose our own? It's definitely an act of profound love to let someone you love suffer from the consequences of their choices. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
As the perfect Father, God can do so much more than we earthly parents can: He can redeem our messes and make something beautiful come out of them if we'll surrender to Him! (Romans 8:26-30) Everything about His nature is redeeming, restoring, and reviving.
So, does He like us even though we don't get it right all the time? I love the question because I love the answer! Yes!! "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners... So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God." (Romans 5:8&11, emphasis added) He loved us when we were messing things up in complete rebellion--how much more now that we're seeking Him and His help? And friends of God? Wow. I like my friends a lot--even though they're not perfect.
And so I answered my son confidently, "Yes, buddy, I know He likes you. He likes you a lot!"
"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." (Zepaniah 3:17)
"For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust." (Psalm 103:11-14)