The other day I took my five-year-old with me to the grocery store on an exciting expedition—picking up refried beans and chips. I’ll never quite understand this fully, but a trip to the store for the most mundane of objects is a slice of heaven for him. He gets to be with dad and that makes his day, even if it’s just a no-frills jaunt for some Mexican cuisine.
On the way home we chatted, and he made up this song: “I love my daddy, I love my daddy, I love my daddy…” That was it, just a simple refrain. I was touched and curious, wondering what had prompted this chorus. Was he confused? Did he have the right guy?
“Why?” I asked, seriously wondering. After all, I had arrived home earlier to find him in a crabby and disrespectful mood. We had a Proverbs 29:15 moment, talked a little, wiped away some tears, and then played in the front yard with the snow. In my estimation it wasn’t that pleasant of an afternoon for him, so again, why this cheery refrain?
And then he replied, as he often does, with a straight-to-the-point, true-as-apple-pie explanation: “I love my daddy because he shows me compassion, even when I don’t obey.”
It’s amazing how God can stop your day on a dime, almost make the world pause with just a single moment of grace—truth from the mouth of a babe (Psalm 8:2).
I wasn’t proud of myself in that moment, because I know—and my son knows—how many times I’ve been angry with him and sinned. He knows because I’ve had to ask for his forgiveness, and he’s been a firsthand witness to daddy-the-jerk. A lot. I didn’t feel like a good dad in that moment, because I’m not. What I felt was the love of a Father who shows his children compassion even when they fail to obey him. And I was grateful that even in all of my failures as a parent, my kid still sees God’s grace in the whole mess.
As our time together for Christmas officially got underway, I quickly realized there is nothing more important than this: a Father who forgives his wayward sons, an older Brother who was born to die for them, and a Spirit who awakens grace in our hearts even still, even in the simplest moments of our lives.
As a dad with responsibilities, bills and lots to do, it’s a humbling and refreshing reminder that I’m still a son whose Father shows him compassion even when I don’t obey. He disciplines me for my good, sticks with me, and throws me in the bathtub of grace every day to wash me clean from my dirt-stained sins. And as I do with my children before bed, He sings his lullabies of grace over me:
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
A Father’s compassion, made anew from Three Feet.