Jesus Loves Our Space Invaders

I have a coffee mug (more a Mountain Dew mug since I’m not yet man enough to drink coffee) sitting on my desk.  It’s very special to me because of the artwork on it.  It has a heart, the letter I, something that looks like a dinosaur or maybe Vermont, I think some space invaders, a purple blob and an equals sign.

I think it’s supposed to say “I love you daddy”.  But instead I think it says purple blob equals deformed dinosaur, I heart space invaders.  I’m confident the artwork on this will never be featured in the Louvre.  Let’s be honest the artwork is terrible. 

You know my response when I was handed this coffee mug, don’t you?

I didn’t say, “Son, this work that you’ve done here is quite ridiculous.  What is that purple blob?  Is that supposed to be a dinosaur?  Because it doesn’t look like one.  Is this some sort of sorry excuse for abstract art?  Do you really expect me to put this on my desk and use this so that people can actually see it?  You really ought to know better than trying art.  You are four years old.  And you have clearly shown from this little artistic endeavor that art is not your forte.  Now go to your room and give me something that is actually of respectable quality for my birthday.  I’m ashamed to call you my son.”

Yeah, that hurt to even type.  It’s ridiculous to think that even the worst of dads would respond in such a way.

Then why do we think God views His children differently?

Because He is holy?  Because His standards are much higher than ours?  Because He cannot look upon sin, and everything we do is tainted with sin and our righteous deeds are like filthy rags?

And so somehow those truths make God a worse dad than I am?  Nah, I don’t think so.  I agree with Kevin DeYoung when he says,

…for those who have been made right with God by grace alone through faith alone and therefore have been adopted into God’s family, many of our righteous deeds are not only not filthy in God’s eyes, they are exceedingly sweet, precious, and pleasing to him.  (DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 70)

I don’t expect my four year old to create for me a masterpiece.  But I know that every little stroke of that wobbly paintbrush was out of love for his daddy.  And so I love my deformed dinosaur and my space invaders.  When Isaiah handed me this mug, I did what every decent adult does when handed artwork of this caliber from a four-year-old.  I treasured it.  I put it on display. I found that which was really good in it, I highlighted it, and I showered him with thanks and appreciation.

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”

Just as a very flawed earthly father knows to show compassion to his little boy, so our perfect Father knows our frame.  Isn’t it possible that the Lord takes our wobbly efforts and pins them on his celestial refrigerator?  How wonderful it is that though we are but dust the Lord takes great delight in our not yet fully redeemed, still flawed, and still tainted expressions of love!

Let’s go lovingly paint the best deformed dinosaurs that we know how.


  1. David Manner says

    Great illustration, Mike. I still have one of those mugs on my desk even after twenty years. I still treasure it.

  2. Greg Harvey says

    Celebrated Dad’s birthday yesterday with an extended call with him and Mom. I–at 52–actually have quite a few more health issues than either of them, both of whom are in their 70s. So way too much of the conversation was about how I’m doing and way too little about how they’re doing.

    But after 52 years of being around them, it’s comforting to spend the time with them when I “get” (which means “take”) the opportunity. I’m who I am because of who they are, though I’ve spent the majority of my life in an effort to differentiate myself from them. My daughter reminds me of the futility of that effort when she said–just the other day–“You know you and I are a lot alike, Dad?”

    Yes, sweetheart, we are. And we came by it naturally. You see, DNA causes us to have children “in our own image” physically and in some odd, often unexpected and strange ways emotionally and mentally.

    But let’s not forget who we are in the image of spiritually.

    Let’s…not…forget. And for some of us–as in my efforts to differentiate from my parents–it’s very much in spite of myself at times that I ever seem related to God at all. Thank goodness itself that he doesn’t give up on me and intends to finish–literally to perfection–what he started in me.

    And you know who that would please most of all? My parents.

  3. Bruce H. says

    Great illustration (lump in throat)

    My mind goes to the sheep in the parable in Matthew 25. After Jesus has accepted them into Heaven due to their “sincere” works, they hesitated and asked with full assurance, “When did we do these things?” You would think they would run through the pearly gates, but no, their heart was transparent enough to ask “why”. Same with my kids when my eyes fill with tears from their efforts or display of kindness. Innocents has its moments. I think God only sees what we do of the things done in our rebirth. That is His grace to the world and for His glory.

  4. says

    Great observation, Mike.

    Let me turn this around and aim it at we who are the proverbial preschoolers:

    First, notice how we quibble over each other’s deformed dinosaur artwork as though it were important. “My dinosaur is better than your dinosaur!” “Oh yeah, well the space invaders are the most important part!”

    Second, consider that some people use deformed dinosaurs as an excuse to never grow beyond that as though such artwork is the full extent of our abilities. My kids are beyond the dinosaur stage now and I’m as pleased that they have grown as I was when they blessed me with the artwork of their childhood.

  5. Jess Alford says

    Mike Leake,

    God doesn’t look for perfection out of his children, he looks at his children’s love for him. Great Post!

    I wish every father could grasp the reality of what God’s love really is.
    Have you ever been to a little league ball game of any type and see a Father come unglued on a child for doing something wrong in a game?
    Especially when the child is doing all he knows how. I’m glad we don’t have a Heavenly father like that.

  6. Dave Miller says

    Posts like this never get the traffic, but I love to hit publish on this kind of blogpost.