When our eldest granddaughter Addie — who is now only a bit over a month shy of 16 (and how on earth did THAT happen?) — was 5 years old or so, I was picking her up from school to take her to her piano lesson. I picked her up every Thursday, and she always emerged with a smile on her face. But one day, I could see immediately when she walked out the door that something was amiss. The second she spotted me, she burst into tears.
I got a red light, she told me, sobbing. In her hand she clutched a red piece of paper.
I knew what that meant. Her teacher handed out “lights” at the end of the day: green if you had been good, yellow if there were problems but they had been addressed, and red, well, you know. Addie was not used to getting anything but green lights.
For the life of me, I can’t recall why she got a red light. But I quickly comforted her, telling her that we all had days that were more difficult than others and that tomorrow would be a much better day. (I, of course, was thinking: that teacher is a complete monster and Addie was undoubtedly FRAMED by a jealous 5-year-old juvenile delinquent.)
The truth is, even if Addie was guilty of some sort of 5-year-old version of naughtiness, I loved her with all my heart, as I do all of my grandkids. None is perfect, and I love them all despite any flaws. Most grandparents (and parents) feel exactly the same.
Knowing this reality, why is it then so hard to understand that God loves us — his own children — even when we turn our backs on what we KNOW is good and neglect to follow the two simple laws Jesus himself gave us: love God and love one another like we love ourselves.
It is good to remind ourselves that when it was time for Jesus to select his apostles — those men who became his closest friends and who would carry on his teaching after he left — he didn’t pick men who were important muckety-mucks in the Jewish community or who were wealthy sports figures who wore fancy Gucci running robes and expensive Michael Jordan running sandals.
Nope, he selected a frankly rag-tag group of men who were so poor that they mended their fishing nets instead of buying new nets. They were tax collectors and fishermen and I’m pretty sure John never even had a job before he met Jesus. Just sayin’.
And heaven knows they weren’t perfect. They sinned again and again. They doubted and they questioned and they didn’t even begin to understand what Jesus was telling them until long after he had died and risen.
Jesus loves those kinds of people. Instead of ignoring them, he made them fishers of men. And he preached what his Father taught: He loves us even when we aren’t perfect.
Though I still believe Addie was innocent. Look at that 5-year-old face…..
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