We think Zeke might be getting his first tooth. Areyna said her first prayer the other day (“Jeejuh, ruv roo”). Translation: “Jesus, I love you.” Zeke is starting to jump a little bit in his Johnny Jumper, rather than just sit there. Rainy is learning a few Spanish words and officially knows more Spanish than me and Tasha put together. It’s not hard for me to rejoice over my kids when they accomplish these kinds of things. It’s pretty easy actually. It comes naturally, I think, to take great joy in our kids when they accomplish great things.
But it gets harder when these things happen: When Zeke screams and cries the entire six-hour trip from Charlotte to Roanoke the night before Thanksgiving. When Rainy has an all-out meltdown because her parents refuse to allow her bear to accompany them into a department store because if they were to lose him they’d be screwed. When Zeke projectile vomits on his dad who’s freshly dressed and ready to walk out the door. When Rainy fights tooth and nail refusing to eat her dinner, thinking that the kitchen floor would enjoy it more.
I can continue to love my kids even when they resemble the spawn of Satan. I love them no matter what. But to rejoice over them after they’ve acted like they belong in a circus freak show is another matter. I mean, are you kidding me? I don’t take joy in their lunacy. But God does.
I’m reading through the book of Jeremiah right now and I was convicted this morning as I read of the delight that God takes in His children – even after they’d acted like complete idiots. Worse than that – after they’d flipped Him the bird and worshiped foreign gods, sacrificing their children in the fire to the god Molech. That’s depravity! But God said in Jeremiah 32:41, “I will rejoice over them to do what is good to them, and I will plant them faithfully in this land with all My mind and heart.”
Unbelievable! You should read the whole passage to feel the weight of these words juxtoposed with the hellacious actions of God’s people, Israel. It’s not like God’s children had just graduated with honors from college. They didn’t just win the Nobel Peace Prize. They didn’t receive the Silver Buffalo award for noteworthy and extraordinary service. They had done nothing worthy of praise. They had done nothing worthy of rejoicing. Yet, God said that He was rejoicing over them to do what is good to them. To me, that’s incomprehensible. To me, they deserve God’s wrath (which they did get, by the way. Read the passage). But, His wrath is a means to an end – to bring us back to the place where He can rejoice over us.
But we are programmed to think differently.
We reward excellence. We reward perfection. We rejoice over accomplishments. But not God.
He rejoices over imperfect children. He takes joy in flawed people. He smiles over joyless souls. He wraps His love around hateful beings. He plants faithfully in the land faithless and rootless creatures made in His image. And He does it with all of His mind and heart.
Hmm… maybe I have some work to do in rejoicing over my own children.