Were you afraid of the dark as a child? I was. My over-active imagination morphed shadows into monsters and darkness into deep fear. And yet, with the simple flip of the bedroom light switch, those monsters disappeared. As adults, we may be less afraid of the dark. But there are other monsters that creep into our quiet moments. Shame. Resentment. Insecurity. These are just a few of the monsters we face as adults. My friend John S. Dickerson has a gift for “flipping on the light switch” to chase those monsters away. The “Light,” of course, is the Light of the World, the only One Who can outshine our deepest regrets and mistakes. John’s new book weaves stories and Scriptures to shine the Light of Jesus into your heart and mind. “Jesus Loves Me: Christian Essentials for the Head and the Heart” is a tool for you, your children, anyone you want to experience the Light of the World and live Jesus’s way of life. To that end, it’s a grace to welcome John to the farm’s front porch today…
od has called me to be the daddy to three amazing elementary-aged kiddos. Parenting them gives me momentary glimpses of how God the Father must see us. Like all kids, my three do some silly things. Sometimes they even do foolish things, but I never stop loving them.
When one of my littles was a toddler, that child would sometimes say, “I don’t love you anymore,” or “I don’t want to play with you ever again.” Those impulsive moments and words never stopped me from loving them. In the same way, our impulsive failures cannot stop our Father from loving us.
When my children are tired, hungry, excited, happy, or a hundred other emotions, I get to see what God the Father’s view of us must be. After all, we are His children in Christ.
Some years ago, when one of my littles was finishing up with potty-training, I got to experience how God’s love enters into our yuckiness, into the mess of our lives.
I walked into my child’s bedroom, and this child was sitting on the floor, changing their clothes. Of course, it’s normal for potty trainers to have lot of “accidents” during those first weeks.
It was in this context that I looked down at the bedroom rug and saw a little pyramid of toilet paper and baby diaper wipes that appeared to be covering something.
“What’s that?” I asked, pointing down to the pyramid that was clearly covering up some kind of accident.
My child said, “That’s nothing, Daddy.” Then, looking ashamed, my child said, “Can you please leave?”
I sensed embarrassment. And while I was pretty sure there was a soiled mess sitting on the rug, I tried to play it cool. It was one of those parenting moments when I was thinking, Okay, fragile little ego. Learning moment. Important moment. How do I handle this?
I walked out into the hall and thought for a moment.
I remember thinking, I don’t want to shame my child and give them a complex about going to the bathroom.
I formulated a plan and walked back into the room.
“Hey, first of all,” I told my child “I want you to know that you are really doing a good job with the potty training.”
The child forced a small smile.
“And also, it’s normal to have some accidents while you are still getting this figured out. I just want you to know that if there is something under that toilet paper . . . if there is something under there, well, do you maybe feel embarrassed that there might be something under there?”
My child nodded.
“If you feel a little embarrassed, here’s what I want you to know. Your mom and I love you, and any time you feel that embarrassed feeling, you need to know we are here to help you.”
Now, I have this quirk as a parent. Sometimes my wife mocks me for it. As soon as my children can mumble words, I begin talking to them about grown-up ideas. I continued talking to this preschooler.
“What you’re feeling, people call it shame or embarrassment. And whenever you feel those feelings, you don’t have to run away or hide. You can run to mom and me, and we will always help you. We are here to help you clean up your messes, and we are here to help you learn.”
I have no idea how much of that interaction my child remembers now. But I ended up learning something in the process. After I cleaned up the mess that was indeed hiding under the toilet paper, and after my child was dressed in clean warm clothes, I realized something.
I realized that every time I feel ashamed or embarrassed about my mistakes or failures, my Father in heaven feels the same way about me as I felt about my child.
As children of God, why is it that some days we don’t feel God’s love for us? In my experience it’s usually because we have things in our lives that we are embarrassed about.
We have things in our lives that we are ashamed of.
We have guilt, or we have insecurity or shame.
And, whether we have the words for it or not, we assume God wouldn’t want to be near us in our mess. We feel there is something between God and us.
When Jesus came to earth, He stepped into our mess.
On the cross He willingly laid down His life to do the cleanup.
God promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NASB).
At the cross, Jesus took upon Himself every shameful and embarrassing thing we’ve ever done.
He took our evil upon Himself.
Every moment of jealousy. Every resentment. Every moment of rage and hatred. Every lie. Every stolen convenience store candy bar. Every little white lie.
Jesus said, essentially, “I willingly take upon myself the cleanup duty. I take the consequences for your shameful things, so that all who humble themselves and repent can be made right with God, can be restored to God.”
This is what it means that God loves you.
The moment you believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, God says you are welcomed into His family. Now, Almighty God sees you like I saw my potty-training child with the accident on the rug. That is, God loves you no matter what mistakes you make.
As a child of God, you no longer need to live under shame or guilt.
Your Creator desires to help you any time you feel those emotions. He has paid the price to wash your sins away.
As a result, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
And so, we run to Him.
John S. Dickerson wants to help you know Christ’s teachings—and live like Jesus. A bestselling author and seminary-trained pastor, John makes the Christian essentials easy-to-understand in his new book, Jesus Loves Me: Christian Essentials for the Head and the Heart.
John serves as Lead Pastor of Connection Pointe Christian Church in Indiana. More importantly, he is a husband and dad to three elementary-aged kiddos. He’s giving away a free Jesus Loves Me video study and small-group guide that you can use with your family, book club, or church group.
In this winsome book, bestselling author John S. Dickerson clearly and faithfully explains essential Christian beliefs, using simple stories that have resonated with his congregation of thousands. He guides readers into these basic beliefs, and most importantly, he illustrates why these beliefs matter.
The result is an easy-to-read primer, designed for a time when Christianity is questioned and challenged. It is a great study for young adults, new believers, and long-time believers who want to reclaim the essentials.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]