Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home

If you, O LORD, keep a record of sins, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness.  Psalm 130:3–4 NIV

“Wait ’til your father gets home” was not a threat I was able to use on my children. Their father, you see, was—and still is—a softy. I was the bad guy who doled out punishment and discipline.

But there was one time I was sure this easygoing husband of mine would crack and lose his temper with an errant, strong-willed, rebellious child.

One evening when my daughter was in high school, I’d taken her to the mall to do some school shopping. She’d just about finished when my aching feet drove me to the car to wait while she picked up some makeup. I waited. And waited. And waited. The mall was closing down and still no daughter. Where was she?

I returned to the store to find out. Well, she’d picked up some makeup, all right—and tried to get out of the store without paying.

I was beyond furious. How could she do something like this? How could she do this to me? I mean, after all, I was a Sunday school teacher and Bible club teacher, choir director, Christian writer. Wasn’t I supposed to have perfect Christian children? What would people say? What would they think of me? I’ll never forgive her for this! I vowed silently as I drove home, shaking with rage.

“When we get home,” I hissed, “you will tell your father what you’ve done.”

I sent her in ahead of me so I could try to calm down and give her time to tell him without me there. But when I walked in, the scene that greeted me was not what I’d had in mind. There, curled up in her father’s lap, was our remorseful child.

I was stunned. How could he open his arms to her after what she’d done? How could he forgive her just like that? At that moment I don’t know who I was madder at—her or him.

That was more than twenty years ago. Since then, our daughter has grown up to be quite the woman. While fulfilling her roles as wife and mother, she earned her teaching degree as a full-time student with close to a 4.0 GPA. Her college recognized her with its “Heart of Gold” award for her work with a support group for parents of autistic children. She’s now an awesome high school math teacher who asks to work with students who struggle with learning math because she, too, found math difficult when she was in high school.

It took me years before I recognized what I really saw that night when I walked in the house: a perfect picture of God’s unconditional love for us.

Thank You, Abba Father, that we can curl up in Your lap any time we need forgiveness. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 15:11–32.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

A Heart Like His

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. –Philippians 2:4 NIV

For two weeks I was able to read without a magnifying glass. Then a tiny speck appeared on the edge of the right lens of my new eyeglasses. At first I thought it was an ink spot. But cleaning the lens didn’t remove it.

Maybe it won’t get any bigger. I dreaded the thought of having to send them back. It had been wonderful, being able to see my computer screen and the printed page clearly. But a few days later, the speck expanded and resembled a chip on a windshield. In addition, a minuscule crack had appeared in the left lens.

So back to the eye doctor I went. And learned that our insurance requires them to use the company that manufactured the lenses.

“They do shoddy work,” the doctor’s assistant told me. The lenses were made too big, and the pressure of being forced into frames too small had caused them to crack.

“How long will it take—another seven to ten days?” I asked. “Maybe since this is a return due to their mistake, they’ll speed up the process?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. They don’t care. They have so much business that one customer doesn’t make a difference.”

Putting the customer first, quality products, and quality service have taken a backseat to big customers with deep pockets. Corporate hearts have hardened toward the little guy.

But before I call the kettle black, perhaps I should look into my own heart. Where have I become calloused?

Have I attended to the physical needs of others or do I just wish them well (James 2:14–16)? Do I give generously (Ephesians 4:28) or am I tightfisted with my money, possessions, time, and talents (2 Corinthians 9:6–11)?

I think of Haiti, people in Third World countries, Russian children who live in sewers, and I feel overwhelmed by the quantity and depth of the needs. I think of the many organizations that respond to these needs, and I allow confusion over which organization to donate to hold me back from giving as I should.

God wants us to have a heart like His. He commanded us to show mercy and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9), to act justly and to love mercy (Micah 6:8), to clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy (Colossians 3:12). “Having no interest in or concern for other people, their needs, and activities”* is indifference, another of the subtle sins God has brought to my attention.

When I was a little girl, I used to lie in bed at night, dreaming of going to Third World countries to help others. My desire to make a difference was so strong, I couldn’t get to sleep. My heart would break when I’d see the aged, the blind, the crippled, the infirm, the helpless. I wanted to do something. I even looked into the Peace Corps when I was in college.

But somewhere along the way, I lost that passion to help others. My life, by my own choices, took a different direction. Then God used my flippant response to a local tragedy to show me how far I’ve gotten from that tenderhearted young girl and the places in my heart that have become hard, calloused. I’m too often like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, who either didn’t want to take the time or get their hands dirty helping someone else.

Just like the speck in my eyeglass lens grew bigger and bigger until I had to send them back to the maker, so the sin of indifference has grown to a defect in my character.

In order to correct the flaw and for my heart to become a heart like God’s—tender, compassionate, loving—it, too, must be sent back to the Maker, who promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10 RSV). Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 10:30–37 and Isaiah 58:6–9.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

*Definition from Children’s Ministry Resource Bible ©1993, Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc.