In these past weeks, I've been pondering how past events have affected my view of God and His love. How has my perception of His love been skewed by the imperfect love I've experienced from others? Well, as I've been thinking (and clearing out a room in Bryan's office), I came across an old box of crayons that I'd happened on before. Last time I found them, Bethany was with me. And what I learned then was something I needed to hear again. I needed to be reminded that the love of Jesus is not fickle. It's not wavering. It is, at all times, faithful. And that makes a world of difference in everyday life.
It happened like this:
“Look, Mom, crayons!”
I lifted my head out of bag of toys that I was unpacking to see my five-year-old daughter clutching a narrow yellow and green box in her hand.
Bethany opened the lid. “Ew, but they’re so old. Yuck.”
I laughed and tossed a doll back into the bag. “Bring those here.”
She sidestepped around a bag of stuffed animals and hopped over a box of craft supplies. “Here.” She handed me the old, dilapidated box. “I don’t want them.”
I grinned. “That’s okay, because they’re not yours.”
She frowned. “Then whose are they?”
I ran my finger over the top of the box and paused over a name written in brown ink. “They’re mine.” And they had been, for a long time. A box of 64 crayons, their ends dulled with use, the paper torn, but all still intact.
Bethany looked at the box and pointed to the name. “But your name’s not Lynette.”
“Nope, but they’re my crayons all the same. I got them when I was in the fourth grade.”
Bethany tapped her finger on the box top. “But that’s still not your name.”
“Well, let me tell you . . .”
She sat down and crossed her legs. Probably because she knew a story was coming. She was right.
I sat down too, and placed the crayons on my lap. “See, here’s my name.” I pointed to the “Marlo” printed in dark purple along the edge. “My friend Lisa gave me these crayons as a gift.”
“But your name’s crossed out.”
“I know. About a week after she gave them to me, she got mad at me and gave them to Lynette instead. See, here’s Lynette’s name right after mine.”
“It’s crossed out there too.”
“Then your name’s crossed out again.”
“That’s weird.” Bethany shook her head. “So why was your friend mad at you?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t know then either, but Lisa was that way. When she got mad at me, she’d give the crayons to Lynette and cross out my name. I’d come in from recess and the crayons would be gone, right out of my desk. Then a few days later, they’d be back again, with Lynette’s name crossed out and mine written again.”
Bethany giggled. “How many time did it happen?”
“Well, let’s see.” I counted the crossed out names. “Six times. She forgot to write my name the last time.”
Bethany crossed her arms. “She wasn’t a very good friend.”
Bethany shrugged. “Jesus is my friend. We learned that last week at Sunday School.” She turned around and returned to her box across the room.
I grinned as I watched her go back to her unpacking. She had stated it so simply. Jesus was her friend. And he was mine too. I opened the crayon box and looked down at the dilapidated crayons. Today, they made for a funny story, but back then, it had hurt to have a fickle friend.
Jesus wasn’t like that. And yet, sometimes, even now as an adult, I acted as if he were. Secretly, I wondered if one day, without me understanding why, he would just reject me? Would he call me "not good enough" to be his friend? If I failed, would he turn away and cross out my name from his "favored" list? In the face of loss and grief, I asked, “What have I done wrong to deserve this?” It was as if Jesus was like the little girl Lisa.
But God doesn’t get mad at me and take away his grace. He doesn’t sneak in and steal away his gifts on a whim. Even when I fail, or withdraw, or doubt ... his love remains.
In 2 Timothy 2:13, Paul says, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (NIV)
God has given me his grace, his love, his promise that nothing shall separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
God loves me. He won’t cross my name off the box. And he won’t take my crayons away. I need to live in the joy, confidence, and gratefulness of that amazing truth.
How can I (and you!) live more fully in the truth of God's breath-taking love today??