Dad’s Sweet and Sour Love

Saw concurrent pictures of a father’s love in action today – one in the sermon I was listening to in church, one in the sermon I saw and heard off to the side of the room.

Our pastor was teaching from the story of the prodigal son, and the picture here was used as an icon to represent the story. We all know the tale, and this particular sermon brought out all the usual suspects:  the youngest son that squanders his inheritance, the Father so full of extravagant love, and the older brother that resents the younger.  So many great illustrations, so little time in one Sunday sermon, right?

But then, I witnessed a little Sunday morning drama that added another layer of depth to the imagery on the screen….

One of the dads came in the side door with his young son in tow, and they headed into the restroom for a little “man to man discussion” after the little guy apparently wasn’t cooperating over in the preschool class (second week running that the little guy earned himself a field trip to the bathroom.)

This little guy, who just turned three, is one of those kids that you can’t help but like: he’s smart, funny, cute, warm smile, nicest kid in the world… as long as he’s getting what he wants. If you ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do… well, the smile is still there, but the act of obedience doesn’t necessarily follow!  I think a lot of us can relate – if we didn’t have a kid like that (we did), we probably WERE the kids like that (though we deny it, of course!)

Anyhow, the situation was handled with some drama, but no loss of life or limb. There was a bit of wailing from the strong-will that didn’t really want to submit, however. Dying to self is never an easy thing, whether we’re three going on four or forty going on fifty, know what I mean?  (Yeah, I know you do.)

After the squall subsided, dad and son came out of the bathroom to head back to preschool class, and what did I see?  The exact same image as shown in this picture – the little guy’s head was buried in dad’s shoulder as they lovingly embraced and headed to class. I actually pulled out my phone and tried to take a picture both of dad and son and the icon on the screen… people around me probably thought I wasn’t paying attention, but I was.

So, the additional three-point sermon point that I picked up from this was:

  1. We tend to forget that sometimes the warm embrace that we all desire has to be preceded by a change of heart. And we, as children ourselves, will still go to great lengths to avoid that change of heart, that submitting of our will, even though we know the embrace waits on the other side. The heart wants what the heart wants, darn it!
  2. God’s discipline is always about restoration and relationship. He disciplines us because he loves us, just like we do our kids. And, last but not least…
  3. I’m glad my kids have grown up a bit and aren’t in pre-school anymore! Although I sometimes miss the hugs, I’m definitely glad that the crying and tantrums have dropped off… both from me and from them!

Having a loving relationship with our kids is definitely a sweet part of life, though it does seem inevitable that we have our sour patches too.  (Must… ignore… commercial image…)

I must be getting old — I’m starting to tell stories on other people’s kids instead of my own!

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