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.