A few years ago I read a story in a magazine—I know, who reads magazines anymore?—but anyway, I remember it because it was so cute and being blessed to have been called daddy by little girls, I could relate to this story. The bible says sons are like arrows and happy is the man whose quiver is full but I say daughters are the truest form of joy there is on this earth to a daddy, forget the quiver, my heart is full. If a full quiver does brings happiness to a father, perhaps it’s because he can better defend the treasures within.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
You know who the enemies at the gate are? The boys who are coming to see your daughters. Having no sons, I had to defend my treasures alone, and I did pretty well, mostly, I wasn’t able to scare ‘em all off, they all got married and moved out. But grandsons and grandda
ughters are pretty cool too.
Anyway, back to the story. It was written by a dad who took a lot of pride in his yard. But the dandelions—they had to go. So this guy decided to eradicate these rascally weeds from his yard so he pulled and sprayed till they were all gone.
Two weeks later, aaa
hh! The yard is turning
yellow again! So this time he makes sure he gets them all out of the boulevard, sprays the yard again, killing all of those pesky weeds. 2 weeks later he looks out at his perfect yard and see’s… nooo! More dandelions peeking up and mocking him. So he goes through the whole drill agai
n, this time he even does parts of his neighbor’s lawn to keep them from invading his—success! They burned and they dug and they dug and they burned and killed all of our cute little weeds… —No, wait, that was the Wildwood flowers… (must have been a flashback.)
A couple weeks later the man look
s out at his perfect green yard and sees—his four year old daughter holding a handful of dandelion heads, the ones with all the seeds just waiting for a wind to carry them to their new homes, and she is blowing on them sending a thousand little seeds parachuting across his yard—the invasion is on.
Frantic he runs outside and asks his little girl, “What are you doing?!” She says in her sweet little voice, “I am planting you flowers daddy. I keep planting these flowers that God made special for you and they keep dying, so I am planting more. I had to look really hard to find them this time—but I did!” “But honey, what makes you think God made those flowers for me?” The little girl looks at him kind of confused and says; “Well, they are called Daddy lions aren’t they?”
“Yes, honey, they are, th
ank you, I love them.”
How could you be mad at that. As much as he loved a perfect yard, he loved his little girl a whole lot more.
Any man who is a
man, cannot help but have a lot of grace for his little girls, and his little boys. I believe they call that unconditional love. It’s the part of the man that comes from being created in the image of God—the perfect Father. That is the Father that Jesus came to reveal to us, and will yet today—if we let him, one who loves us no matter how much we mess up his yard. More likely he’s just glad we’re still in it, even guarding the gates lest the enemy carry us away.
His is a radical love, made accessible to us by a radical Son.
Most people have heard of and even know the story about the prodigal son. The story Jesus told—an amazing story—that has resonated through the ages, about a wild child who came of age and left his father’s home after demanding his inheritance only to party it away. He comes home later, nearly starved to death, fully expecting to have to beg forgiveness and be content with any scrap of mercy, and food, his father might give him.
But instead of anger and “I told you so’s” his father, who has been watching the road for his return, runs out to meet him, embraces him and gives him a welcome fit for a returning prince. Of course as the astute readers of the Bible that we all are, we know that the story was meant to illustrate the Heavenly Father, Jesus’ own Father, and how he welcomes the wayward child back into the family. Those wayward children being you and I.
I know you are all wonderful people and have little to be sorry for, ‘no weeds in my yard!’ but I know I have often felt like I need to crawl home on my belly and beg for scraps. And I suspect I’m not alone in that, there’s a prodigal child lurking in all of us. That’s why we can relate to, and why, this is one of the most popular stories Jesus told.
What we miss though, about this story, and about Jesus in general, is just how radical this notion was to the people he was teaching. The people of Jesus’ day, the Israelites, whether they were religious or not—everyone from the common working man to the Priests and Pharisees—perceived God as being a harsh taskmaster, a scowling Father standing at the edge of heaven and looking down, shaking his head and wondering why he shouldn’t just strike us all dead and get it over with.
Many of us still have that notion…
That’s not the Father I know, and it is not the Father Jesus knows. If you and I can extend such grace and love to our own “messy kids”, surely God the Father can do so much more.
Just come home, the messes can be cleaned up later.