I heard a preacher tell a story of his young son (4yo). He came home from work one day feeling like a failure. He walked into the kitchen to find his son there and his wife. His son was standing on a kitchen chair leaning over a sink filled with water and mounds of bubbles. There were two clean, bubbly plates in the dish rack. There was a pile of dirty plates on the kitchen table. There was one broken plate smashed on the floor. Water cascaded over the edge of the sink and down the front of the kitchen cupboard creating a sea across the kitchen. The little boy was wet. His wife’s cheeks were flushed red, her always neat hair sticking up loosely all over her head. She smiled at him faintly. His son saw him come in and a smile lit up his face, “Dad, I washed the dishes!” he cried. This man tells of how pride and mirth and love filled his heart in that moment and God thundered a whisper through his soul, “This is how I feel about you and the things you do for me.”

***

I know of another preacher who also tells a story about his young son (4yo). At school his little boy wrote an essay titled: My dad.

It went something like this:

My dad is called Ken. He is an andfortiser but mostli he pelts in cherch and sometimes he takes it him self. He takes my brother steven and me he allways takes us to the burn there is a bars cave up in the hills that you can walk inside it you can find good fosilizies thair I think my dads best hoppy is fishin. he is a good dad to me and I love im

This pastor’s heart was so moved by this essay. As a young dad he was continuously wondering whether he was a good enough father. A few weeks later God asked Him about that essay. The conversation went something like this:

God: What did you think of your son’s letter?

Ken: It really blessed me.

God: How many marks would you give for punctuation and spelling?

Ken: I’m a bit biased. I mean some of the words are spelt right.  4/10

God: Did the bad spelling and lack of punctuation make any difference?

Ken: No in fact in a way it almost added to it because my son still needed me.

God: Which line was it that touched you?

Ken: The line where he wrote, “he’s a good dad to me and I love im.”

God: Could you say that to me?

***

I stood two weeks ago at my work station in the cold warehouse with my hood over my head to cover my ears which ached in the winter chill. My boss came to me and said what a great job I was doing, of how I was the only one in the warehouse that week to earn a bonus for the sheer number of books I had managed to price label. I thanked him quietly and as he walked away my whole body beamed with pleasure. My heart swelled and that inner voice that we all know so well spoke, “Ah-ha I will redouble my efforts!” But then my heart sank.  I was finding my success in putting stickers on books? Are you serious? I was finding my success in doing something better than everyone else? Memories of all the trouble and insecurity and pain this has caused me over the years came flooding back. Did you know that your identity is rooted in the place where you feel most successful? My inner voice cried out to God in that moment, “Oh God save me from myself. I want my identity to be found in You and Your love.” And He whispered back, “I like you. I enjoy you. Even in this place of weakness I like you.” I really felt it then and tears came in that moment and I was standing in that cavernous workshop helplessly weeping.

***

I realized this week what these three stories illustrate. They illustrate a little part of the gospel! I always knew God loved me before, loved me well enough and I was going to “heaven”. But there’s something different when you know that you know that you know that He actually likes you. Words don’t do that knowing justice, stories take us a little closer. In Song of Songs 1:4 the bride cries out, “Dark am I yet lovely.” You can write that another way, “Weak am I yet lovely to God!”

God likes me! Did you hear me? He likes me! Guess what? HE LIKES ME! And if you’ve been born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, He likes you too! As we turn our hearts and faces toward Him in the midst of weakness He really, really, really, really likes us. That’s what Jesus did for us, He made a way that we could experience the Father’s affections.

And you know what, when this touches my heart then there is power to actually change. Addictions are broken, everything is different. It’s strange. I still don’t fully understand it but it’s true. Oh Papa, touch our hearts again with how you really feel about us!

J. Ratcliffe

Leave a Reply