Saturday, September 15, 2007

Are you proud of you?

The other day I was encouraging my 3.5 yr old daughter, Zoe. My wife and I often take pride in ourselves for parenting in the most modern fashion, even though we have no more a clue about what we are doing and why at times than anyone else ever has throughout the whole of human history. So, the other day I was feeling especially smug when I told Zoe I was proud of her and then asked, "Are you proud of you?" She answered to the affirmative and it did my heart glad to know that I am raising someone with a sense of contentedness with herself. Of course she could be a megalomaniac in the making, but we try not to dwell on that. Truly we do what we can to instill self satisfaction as well as respect for others. But hey, she's 3 going on 15, so we'll take it one step at a time.

Anyway, the rambling point of this is that about five minutes after this shining moment of parenting she totally nails me. After completing some simple task that she had given me precise instructions for she looks at me and says, "I'm proud of you, Daddy.....are you proud of you?" Wow. There it is. Am I proud of me? Me, a forgiven sinner? Me, a totally depraved contorted image of God? Me, the one who goes his own way while craving the sustenance of community? Me, a child of the most high God... yes, even me. I choked out a "Yes, Zoe, I am." though I hardly believed it. "Good job, Daddy!" was all she said.

Though she went immediately to the next shiny thing, part of me remains frozen in that moment. Through Jesus Christ we are forgiven, made whole, redeemed! I preach it every day, almost. Yet why is it so hard to believe? I believe it to be a good thing that we have the knowledge of our sinful nature to keep us in check. But sometimes I wonder if that does not simply equal a theology of unhealthy guilt. I don't want that for Zoe, or for me. So while I seek to save my own soul through my daughter's eyes I hear my heavenly father say, "Good job!" and I know that I have something to be proud of. Now I don't mean to suggest that I am intentionally imposing on my children the burdens I bear, expecting to fix in them the things broken in me. Instead I am saying that it is part of our nature to do just that, and by the grace of God in Jesus Christ I have seen more clearly who I am through the eyes of my child.

Exodus 20:5-6 "I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments."

So we extend the punishment, and even participate in it, when we simply do what we do without considering how we are reacting to, carrying on, or participating in the patterns of our lives. And every now and then God breaks in to free us from ourselves... to remind us that our best efforts may not be good enough to redeem us, but that God's actions are. I am proud of me. Not because of who I am or what I do, but because of whose I am and what God is doing... even through me.

Alleluia! Amen.
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