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Jan 17 2015

LEARNING GOD’S LOVE THROUGH TIME-OUTS AND SCIENCE

 

Learning God's Love Through Time-outs and Science - from Dixie Mama

Image courtesy of Nat Arnett at FreeImages.com

I was practically born at a church service. I grew up not only attending church all the time but genuinely believing, wholeheartedly, all of the lessons. The first and foremost was that Jesus loves me, and it wasn’t hard to grasp. Wide-eyed and full of wonder, children are experts at faith. It’s no wonder Jesus loves them so much.

But I’m not a child anymore.

My faith waivers, and my behavior is inconsistent at best. I look back over my life and see magnificent highs and devastating lows. I see bad choices, and I see failure. At times, I look in the mirror and see only discouragement. If I don’t like what I see, how much more is a holy God disappointed in me?

Learning God's Love through Time-outs and Science - from Dixie Mama

Image courtesy of Cherie Otto at FreeImages.com

One day my son, my angel, decided to act like anything but. I don’t even remember what he got into trouble for except that it was his attitude, and he wouldn’t change it. He had been defiant about something, and I put him in time-out. He refused to stand there and became more defiant. I spanked him and put him back. He still refused, and we went round and round. It was one of those days when everything I knew as a mom failed me. Everything that normally worked, didn’t. I grounded him from video games, then TV, then entetainment of any shape or form. It seemed nothing would break his will of iron. I stressed that his punishment would continue until he stood in the corner and submitted to his time-out the way I had told him to. He said, “What if Daddy comes to pick me up first?” I said, “Then I’ll tell him how you’re behaving, and you will continue your punishment when Daddy brings you back.” With full-on snarkyness, he said, “You’ll forget.”

To say that my patience was wearing thin is the understatement of the year. I was doing my best to remain calm, centered and unmovable on the outside, but on the inside, it was a different story. All I had wanted was a three minute time-out, and he decided to turn it into a three HOUR battle of the wills. I wanted to cry. I wanted to yell. I wanted to trade kids with the first mom I saw.

Somehow I managed to outlast his stubborn defiance, and he walked over to the corner and waited patiently until I told him it was over. (Was that really so hard?) I scooped him up, and we had our post time-out conversation. In an instant, he was my angel once again. I held him close, and he said, “Mommy, you can hug me as much as you want.” I took him up on that; the afternoon had been rough on both of us. Then I noticed something.

He knew how badly he had behaved, yet he had no trouble at all receiving love from me.

My wheels started to turn. When he earns punishment, I give it to him because I love him and it’s what he needs. But once it’s done, it’s done. I don’t hold it over his head, and I don’t expect him to grovel or try to earn back my affection. I also don’t expect him to keep distant from me because he feels undeserving of love. If he did, it would break my heart.

So why do I do that with my heavenly Father?

Learning God's Love through Time-outs and Science - from Dixie Mama

Image courtesy of Fred Fokkelman at FreeImages.com

Science has fascinated me since I was very young. Some don’t like the sparks between secular views and the Bible. For me, it breeds excitement. Either there is something in the Bible I have misunderstood, or science has yet to catch up to a full understanding. Either way, it fuels my curiosity of our wondrous Creator. One night I decided to watch the television program Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. I was in the mood for some science and figured I would gain some perspective on my heavenly Father as well. I was right. However, the insight came through struggle.

The episode was “Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still”.  (See one minute excerpt here.) The presenter, Neil deGrasse Tyson, first took viewers on a journey to explore the vastness of the universe. It was impressive and staggering. The size of our universe baffles me. He asked the question, “Feeling small?” Lost in the awe of what I was watching, I nodded my head. I felt like the speck on a speck. What a mammoth God I serve was all I could think. Then he used the “Ship of the Imagination” to explore the universe inside of a dew drop. My tiny mind was effectively blown. Inside this drop of dew, existed a universe filled with microscopic predators and their prey, living and dying all in a tiny drop, oblivious to the earth as we know it, let alone the cosmos. Were you aware of this? Did you know creatures live, die and wrestle for their existence inside a microscopic universe the size of a water droplet?

Anyway….

I would be virtually god-like to these creatures if they were aware of me. Their existence, however, doesn’t matter to me at all. Such creatures can live and die for eons, and it has no effect on me. Under no circumstances would I feel compassion for any of them, and I most certainly would not give my only son to die for them. Yet that’s what God did for me, and in the expanse of the cosmos, I am just as small as a paramecium inside a drop of dew.

So now you’re wondering a.) Why is she rambling on about this? and b.) How could she turn this into a lesson worth my time to read? Here it is.

I wrestled with this for days and prayed and prayed because what I had watched made me realize more than ever how insignificant I should be to God. I was feeling worthless, to be honest. God’s acceptance of me felt more like a fairy tale than reality. My usual love for science that draws me closer to the Lord had backfired, and I wondered more than ever how God could be so mindful of me.

Then it came to me, and it was simple.

Learning God's Love through Time-outs and Science - from Dixie Mama

Image courtesy of Mine Schmidt at FreeImages.com

God doesn’t have love for me. God is love (1 John 4:8). It’s not something He can lose; it’s the definition of His existence. The only way He could love me less would be to change who He is. It has nothing to do with my significance or lack thereof. It isn’t dependent on my obedience or how much I accomplish. The fact is, He would have to deny Himself or change the fiber of who He is in order to stop loving me.

It would be like asking me to suddenly be tall (I’m 5′ 0″) or asking me to cook paella. (I don’t even know what that is. I just googled “complicated recipes”.) The point is, it’s not gonna happen. I can change my hair color, my clothes and my attitude, but I cannot change my identity. The same is true with God. Love is His DNA, and nothing I do–or you do–can change that. So I’m learning to just accept His love, no questions asked.

Like my son, I’m sometimes stubborn and defiant, and I earn God’s corrective hand as a result. At times, I refuse submission and drag out the pain longer than necessary. But once it’s done, it’s done. Like a loving parent, God doesn’t hold it over my head, and He doesn’t expect me to grovel or try to earn back His affection. He also doesn’t expect me to keep distant from Him because I feel undeserving of love. If I did…it would break His heart.

From the heart of Dixie Mama…always say grace

 

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