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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cleaning Up: A Father's Perspective

Last night I was cleaning up the mess of railroad track pieces, trains, cars, torn pieces of paper, pencils, crayons, chess and checkers pieces in the living room. I was disappointed that my kids didn't clean up before dinner, but I decided that it would take them too long and probably get into a fight while they were at it. So I picked up the toys myself. I wasn't happy. Then it hit me: I wonder how God feels about cleaning up our mess? Bombings, poor people going hungry, homeless people cold in the winter, kids doing drugs, the dying ignored and lonely in hospices -- what a mess! Apart from the sacrifice of the Lamb to reconcile us with Him (which we can't accomplish ourselves), what does it mean when He has to clean up after us? He's disappointed, I'll bet. Is it also loss of trust perhaps? How awful to think that our Father in Heaven has lost confidence in us! That is perhaps why God gives us all the opportunities to clean up after ourselves: He trusts us, with ample servings of His divine grace (apart from which we can't do an ounce of extraordinary good), to get things done. He gives us all the tools we need but He wants us to put those tools to work. I am not a Pelagianist -- truly good things, including our salvation, cannot be accomplished without the grace of God through Christ our Lord. But our free will must join with the perfecty and holy will of God, and we must put that will into action through the grace that we receive. I don't think I'd be thrilled if God were to send down His holy angels to run things for us: the government, parenting, education, keeping the peace -- that would be embarrassing! It would seem then that we cannot do anything right, so He has to do everything Himself. Where would we get any satisfaction from a job well done, albeit with tools and resources that He provides? Perhaps I'll get my kids to do the cleaning up next time, but I'll work alongside them. Maybe that will become a routine, a good habit, that they can put into practice even when I'm not there next to them. Then each time they do so will be a source of joy for me (I hope I never overlook such deeds!) and I will be happy to know that they are now equipped with the very useful skill of cleaning up after their mess. And in case the mess they get into is bigger than they're used to, they can always ask me for help. Hmmm.. I should probably spend a lot of time helping them clean up so they get used to the idea that I don't mind helping out. And I shouldn't mind.

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