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A beautiful mess

The Life Less Traveled

February 16, 2011
One Saturday morning last fall, my 2-year-old daughter, Kate, bounced up to me and tugged on my shirt to get my attention.

"What is it, babe?" I asked.

"Wa-wa. Mess," she said.

Hmm. I didn't think much about it because she's always playing in the bathroom sink, splashing water all over the counter and herself. Little did I know that she'd taken things to a whole new level.

About an hour later, I went to get my laptop, the precious laptop that I use for all of my writing projects. What I saw sent shivers down my spine. Water and lots of it.

An ominous pool seeped out from underneath the computer. An empty glass lay on its side nearby. Though I'm no detective, I began to suspect I wouldn't like where this trail of clues was leading me.

I picked up the computer, horrified to watch water pour out of its black casing. How could that glass possibly hold that much liquid? Surely, she must have gone back for refills.

Wa-wa. Mess. Indeed.

I knew at that moment that my reaction was far more important than the laptop itself. So, I calmly walked into the other room, picked up the phone and had Kate shipped off to military school. I figure you're never too young to learn the value of push-ups.

OK, maybe not.

How could I get mad at her when I've been in her shoes so many times myself? How many times have I gone to God with my own "wa-wa mess" situations?

If only I could claim the naiveté of a toddler as an excuse for so many poor choices in my life, so many times I've blown it. I'm not talking about unintentional mistakes, but all the times I've flat-out known the right thing to do but ignored it.

And yet, God's reaction is what floors me. A songwriter named David once wrote:

"God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, He's rich in love. He doesn't endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever."

This Psalm from the Message Bible goes on to say that God feels about us like a parent feels toward His children.

Seriously? Could that really be true?

I couldn't imagine getting angry at Kate for trashing a laptop. Yes, that's one expensive mess, but my relationship with her trumps anything I own.

Could the same thing really be true of God? Could His relationship with me trump everything else?

Apparently so.

I once had a professor tell me the best news of his life was discovering that God was not who he thought He was.

Good thing, too. I'm thinking God's military school would be rough. I'd much rather be His child than a cadet.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more from Byerly, visit www.jasonbyerly.blogspot.com or at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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