The Lord is like a father to His children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.
For He knows how weak we are;
He remembers we are only dust.
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I sat at my desk and tried hard to concentrate on the words on the computer screen, but scenes of my day with my four-year old son kept flashing through my mind, interrupting my thoughts. Zac crying … arguing … stomping to his room. Finally I gave up and rested my forehead in my hands. How had this day gone so wrong?
After four years of motherhood, I expected more from myself. By this time, I figured, I should be pretty competent. But nothing in my bag of tricks had made the slightest dent in my son’s determination that day. If I said, “Go left,” he went right. If I said, “Sit up,” he scooted down as far as possible. Black was white and yes was no. A whole day of sparring and correcting had left me exhausted, frustrated and glum.
I’d tried gentle. I’d tried firm. He’’d been sent to “time out” so many times that I was certain, if I checked, the bench seat would still be warm. By bedtime we had reached a uneasy truce. We’d hugged, shared a story, and prayed together. Still, my sense of failure lingered.
As I stared at my keyboard and replayed each of the day’s failures, I heard a tiny shuffling coming down the hall — the sound of little slippers swishing across carpet. One green eye, and then the other, peeked around the door jamb.
”You’re up,” I observed.
”Is something wrong?”
Maybe he shared my uneasiness about the day. Maybe he too felt there was a little unfinished business between us. He kicked an imaginary spot on the carpet. He scratched another invisible spot on the wall, then rubbed his nose.
Finally, he gave a little sigh. “I was just wondering something. Mom, will you ever … will you ever unlove me?”
I couldn’t get out of my chair fast enough. I scooped him up and squeezed his little flanneled body and rocked —as if rocking could shake out all his doubts.
”Don’t you know that nothing could ever, ever, ever make me unlove you?”
”Even ten bad days?”
”Even ten hundred.”
He twirled a strand of my hair between his fingers. “I just wanted to know.”
I heard God whisper that night. He arranged that little conversation to unstop the ears of my heart, and then He whispered.
”I’ll never unlove you.”
He knows I wonder now and then. Because now and then I let Him down. I fail to be the wife, the mother, the daughter, the friend I know I should be. At those times, my failures loom large enough to block out the sight of His loving face. I question His commitment, sure that I’ve finally reached the end of His patience.
I forget that I am, after all, only a child. And so are you. And our Father wants to reassure us that no matter how far we slip, no matter how far we wander, nothing will ever make Him unlove us, because He sees our end from our beginning and knows exactly where He’s leading us. He knows we’ll stumble. He remembers our frailty; He knows we are but dust.
As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters, speaking of God’s infinite patience with us, “He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there, He is pleased even with their stumbles.”
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Adapted from A Whisper in Winter, Stories of Hearing God’s Voice in Every Season of Life, New Hope Publishing, copyright Shannon Woodward.