During the message Sunday, as Will spoke about finding GRACE at the end of ourselves (you can see the message here), I felt like The LORD gave me an image of a playground. When you hear playground, your mind might run to the image of a place you loved visiting as a child. I thought of the playground we used to take our kids to when they were younger. It was new, huge, with swings, slides, levels of platforms to climb, a pole to slide down, monkey bars, a climbing wall, bars you could slide across, the fancy kid-safe ground surface stuff and had several little wobbly animals you could ride. This playground was always busy, usually with parents sitting around the outside, visiting and watching their children play. When I envisioned this playground on Sunday, I saw children playing. Don’t you love to watch kids play? Engrossed, busy with new friends, going from slide to swing to merry-go-round to monkey bars, until their imagination captures their minds. Then…it’s like they’re gone. Their minds take them to another place, the monkey bars or swings are just vehicles to get them there. You’ve seen this, right? Or maybe it’s just me who assumes he knows what children think on the playground. Great minds or, at least, simple minds think alike.
As Will spoke about GOD’s grace, I pictured a little girl playing on the playground, with her father waiting for her, on the side. His eyes are watching his girl. He loves seeing how she plays, how something so simple completely consumes her; she enjoys playing with her friends and then, in an instant, she changes games and become engrossed all over again. Finally, in the midst of a game, she wonders where her daddy is. The little girl looks and though he can see her, she doesn’t see him, on the other side of the playground. She panics, running around the side of the playground, until her eyes catch her daddy. His arms are outstretched, wide, with a smile on his face. He’s been waiting for her to quit playing and run to him. In his arms, she can go home, she finds true peace and rest.
I thought about this daddy, his little girl and couldn’t help but to consider our Father. He is like the daddy I described, with His eyes on us, watching, waiting, ready to share His unlimited grace with us when we run into His outstretched arms. And we’re a lot like the little girl. We have to turn our eyes from our momentary amusement, come to the end of all the things we were sure would please us and look up to see our Father. No matter how long we play, or what has happened on the playground, we can always look up, find Him looking at us and run to His waiting arms. Once there, we find peace, rest and the unfailing love of our Father.
Reflecting on this image made me wonder if your vision of our Heavenly Father is at all clouded by your view of an earthly dad. If so, consider the character of our Father, as described in Psalm 103.
“The LORD is merciful and gracious; He is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.
He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does He deal with us as we deserve.
For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as he east is from the west.
The LORD is like a FATHER to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.”
(Psalm 103:8-13 NLT)