We took our seats in the auditorium waiting with anticipation for the performance to begin. A lady with a microphone stepped forward to introduce that mornings lineup and the performers. When the music began, energetic three and four years old entered the room and took their place on the stage. This performance was not a Broadway production but to the many parents sitting in that room it was Hamilton.
This spectacular event included our second child performing with his entire preschool class. It was a particularly special event for our family because our first child always refused any opportunity to perform in front of audience, living room excluded. Unlike his older brother, Jacob began to sing with enthusiasm when the teacher motioned toward the students. Waving his arms in practiced motions along with his classmates, his joy was evident by the smile beaming across his face.
Along with the many other parents in the room, my wife and I were smiling and laughing. The performance was far from perfect but you would have never been able to tell from the reactions from the audience. No matter how out of tune or out of sync the children were, we were all filled with pride and joy. In that moment God’s Spirit began to speak to me.
This is how your Heavenly Father feels about you when performing for him. Like usual, it was not a voice from a burning bush, it was much louder. In that moment, a flood of pure satisfaction filled my heart at the thought of God’s love toward me. What my son was doing in that church auditorium had no intrinsic value in the world. No tickets would be sold for this performance, nor would it make even the local paper. What gave this performance such value was the love this father had for the son who stood on that stage. The Scriptures teach us that God looks upon his redeemed children and sees his perfect Son Jesus. What does the Father think about His Son? The Father says he is well-pleased with his beloved Son, delights in his Chosen and was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus. The perfect and obedient Son of Man, was nailed to a tree on the stage that God had ordained before all time. Christ’s passion played out before the watchful eyes of the Father who was please to crush him severely for the redemption of rebellious mankind.
God has taught me many things through experiences with my children and on this occasion school was in session. So many times, when I do things for God I believe he is judging my work by human standards. Am I good enough? Are my efforts effective? Is God really happy with me despite all my sin? While making and achieving measurable goals is a good habit for anyone, thinking my human ability has any bearing on God’s view of me is a lie. When Jacob was on stage there was a moment when he began his performance with his classmates he took his eyes off his teacher and looked around the room. Our eyes met, he knew his daddy was in the room watching and he could see the absolute joy written across my face. His face lit up with a huge smile and his attention was suddenly back to his teacher and the production. I could tell there was a new freedom Jacob possessed because he knew I (along with his mother) was in the room and was pleased with him. When we as God’s children know our heavenly Father truly loves us and is pleased with us, not because of our imperfect works but the perfect work of Christ in us, then we have freedom and joy to perform for Him.
I’ve personally experienced the opposite of this freedom in my own life and have seen it as a parent as well. My oldest son won the privilege to compete against his entire school in a spelling bee. He was in first grade and competing against kids much older than himself. When he settled into his chair he looked around the room and our eyes met. Isaiah’s face changed but it was not a look of joy but rather anxiety. I tried smiling and waving at him to encourage him but he looked away quickly. When it came Isaiah’s turn to spell a word, he spelled the word incorrectly and had to sit out after the first round. I was so heartbroken for Isaiah because I know he pushes himself hard to succeed. I tried getting his attention to silently communicate how proud I was he gave it his best, but Isaiah was purposely not looking in my direction. Isaiah was devastated because he believed that daddy was disappointed with him.
Every disciple of Christ will experience failure with sin daily. Like the apostle Paul confessed in Romans 7:15 “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.” While we face temptations and failures every day, we do not have to live as a prisoner of our failures and mistakes. Every disciple of Jesus has received grace upon grace through the work of Jesus Christ! The apostle Paul understood the power of sin, but he had also experienced the greater power of grace. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, step out on the stage God has given you and give it everything He has blessed you with! For your Heavenly Father is watching with pride and joy.