As a father I sometimes get to enjoy priceless moments with my children, times when I am reminded of the abundant grace that God has poured out in my life, and I struggle to find words to express the love and gratitude that flows from my full heart. A little more than a week ago, I had one of these experiences at the dinner table with my 6-year-old daughter. As the rest of the family was cleaning up their dishes and scattering to other parts of the house, she asked me to list several of my favorite things.
“Who are your 5 favorite people?” An easy one – my wife and 4 children.
“What are your 5 favorite foods?” Not too difficult.
“What are your 5 favorite desserts?” These don’t fall under the “food” category, for sure.
“What are your 5 favorite Bible verses?” Now there’s a question that I love to hear my little girl ask, and my answer came as a bit of a surprise. I started with Psalm 103:14, “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” When she heard me quote that verse she was a little bit perplexed, and she asked me what it meant. How do you explain to your daughter that her daddy feels completely inadequate and unable to follow through on his well-meaning plan to be truly pleasing to God for even just one day? But then he finds relief when he looks into the Scriptures and sees that God has known all along about his weakness and frailty? And that God remembers it even when I am filled with pride and think I can make it on my own? I’m not sure if she completely understood my explanation, but I hope she realizes that she doesn’t have to pretend to be perfect, because God already knows how she’s made.
Then I had her look up Lamentations 3:19-23, where the prophet Jeremiah says:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
This one earned me another strange look, and I had to explain that even though it was more than one verse, it counted as only one spot on my list. But then I got to tell her about how my sin is so foul that I deserve nothing more than to be burned up under his terrible wrath, yet God’s love is so great that he has withheld the punishment I deserve. It is a privilege even to wake up in the morning and find that I have not been consumed during the night. Indeed, each morning I rise is an example of his abundant and tender mercy, not because I have somehow earned his favor or made myself worthy to be loved, but because his faithfulness knows no bounds.
There are still three more verses that I shared with her, but they will have to wait until next time.