The other day, Jim, Hudson and I were with a group of friends, and Hudson was lying on the floor, playing. As Hudson ever-so-accidentally threw his legs to one side, I erupted, “Did you see that?! He almost turned over!” Now, this would not have been the first time that Hudson had turned over, much less almost turned over, but nevertheless, I was caught up in the moment and overjoyed with my son’s developmental progress.
I don’t know if any of you ever have trouble understanding the love of God, but I can tell you that I sure do! I know firsthand how easily my heart wanders from my Heavenly Father, and how wicked my heart is (as well as the hearts of all mankind, believers and nonbelievers alike), but the Bible still says things like:
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15)
“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” (Psalm 86:5)
The Bible is chock full of passages that speak of God’s unending love and grace. Nevertheless, I look at my life, and the fact that there are so many sins which I seem to be worlds away from overcoming, and I just find it hard to comprehend that God really does look on me with favor in spite of all my shortcomings.
But as I sat on the floor watching my precious son the other day, it hit me: as Hudson was kicking his legs around, I knew full well that he still has a lot of developing to do, but I was not disappointed that he cannot yet turn over on demand. There are many things that Hudson cannot yet do, including crawling and sitting up. And he is worlds away from talking and walking – and especially in the way that a mature, fully developed and physically capable adult can talk and walk. In fact, Hudson is nowhere near what Jim and I want him to be able to accomplish eventually. But my attitude toward Hudson is anything but disappointment. Hudson didn’t even know what he had done the other day, but his proud Mommy made sure the whole room knew that he had almost turned over.
Now, of course, if Hudson stopped developing, or later showed no interest in learning new things, I would be concerned. And, as he gets older, his willful disobedience will bring disappointment for me and punishment for him. But as long as he is continually progressing, I will continue taking more pictures and videos than I know what to do with.
In the same way, God knows that spiritual maturity doesn’t come in a single day; it is a lifelong process. We have milestones to reach throughout our spiritual journey, some of which take longer to reach than others, and we all reach them in a different order than the next person. We don’t even realize all of the milestones that lay ahead of us, but God knows what our spiritual growth process will look like.
God knows better than anyone that I am a work in progress. And if I continually seek Him, and love Him, and strive to be more like Him, He will delight in me and help me grow at a pace that He knows is possible for me. And as I develop, I can just picture my loving Father erupting in heaven, “Did you see that?! She almost turned over!”
Likewise, God loves each of you so very much, no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, and even if you are not on any spiritual journey. He loves you regardless of what you have done, and He has provide a way for each of us to have a right relationship with Himself: Jesus’ death paid our sins’ penalty so that we can be children of the perfect Father. Who can resist that kind of love?