“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” --Ephesians 2:8-9
There’s not a lot of grace involved when you live with a 2 year old son. These are all sentences I have actually said word for word over the past few months: “IF you eat your supper, THEN you can have pudding.” “IF you put away your toys, THEN you can watch Dora the Explorer.” “IF you go poopy on the potty, THEN you can have a poopy treat (Smarties).” Life with a 2 year old is a lot of IF/THEN…because it has to be. If you’re good enough, then you get rewarded. 2 year olds understand works righteousness very well.
On the other hand, moments of grace do come. Ever since The Kiddo has been able (in theory at least) to sleep through the night, it has been my job when he does wake up at night to go to his room and comfort him. The reason for this is simple—I am a much lighter sleeper than my wife. When The Kiddo makes noise, I’m going to wake up either way, so it makes more sense for only one person to wake up than both of us.
Back this past spring, he had been waking up with night terrors. It was completely normal for his age, but when you are woken up at 3 in the morning by the most inhuman screaming, it can be a bit disconcerting, to say the least. When it first started, we got him a nightlight, and made a really big deal about how he has a “special light” in his room so he can see that there’s nothing to be afraid of. After that, when the night terrors came, I’d go into his room, sit down next to his bed, rub his back and help settle him down. Then we’d talk about his special light and how he doesn’t have to be scared. I’d ask him, “does mommy have a special light?”
“Does daddy have a special light?”
“No, only me.”
“That’s right, only you have a special light. So you don’t have to be scared.” (Don’t ask me why that made sense, but for some reason it was a big comfort to his 2 year old mind.)
Then, usually, he’d be comforted enough to lay back down and go to sleep.
After he had had the nightlight for a couple of weeks, I was pretty proud of how well our discussions about the nightlight were working in helping him go back to sleep. So one night, I decided to take the discussion one step further. We went through our usual litany, and then I asked him another question, to see how well he understood what we were talking about: “so why don't you have to be scared?”
His answer? “Because Daddy comes.”
The “Theology of the Nightlight” meant nothing to him. What mattered was that in the middle of the night, daddy comes. Psalm 61:1-4 reads: “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings.” Daddy doesn’t come because The Kiddo ate his dinner or because he put away his toys or because he went poopy in the potty—Daddy just comes. When he is so terrified that all he can do is cry out, he knows that Daddy comes.
That is faith.
The theology of justification means nothing to us. What matters is that in the middle of the darkness of our sin, our heavenly daddy comes. He came to us in the manger at Bethlehem, he came to us on the cross at Calvary and in the empty tomb, and he comes to us today. God doesn’t come to us because of anything we’ve done, He just comes. When we’re so terrified, when we’re so lost, when we’re so dead in our sin that all we can do is cry out, we know our heavenly daddy comes.
That is faith.