Bedtime is special in our house. Every night I give each child a hug and a kiss, a special “magic tuck,” and I tell them the same thing “No matter where you go, no matter what you do, no matter what you’ve done, I love you.”
One night not long ago I was putting Jonah to bed when he said in a sheepish voice that informed me he was about to step out on a limb and ask for something he knew he may not receive…
“Daddy… will you cuddle with me for a minute?”
I sighed ever so silently. My son is a master at delaying bedtime. It’d been a long day. We had company downstairs. But I had learned a long time ago the value of saying “yes” to my kids as often as I could.
So I took a deep breath and said “yes.”
As I lay there, half-heartedly cuddling with my son, an amazing thing happened.
Jonah said again in that sheepish sort of voice,
“Daddy… I hope you fall asleep and sleep with me all night.”
I laughed. “You’re silly, buddy!” I said.
This time he sighed, but it wasn’t like my sigh. His was the kind of sigh you make when you think about that memorable vacation, your favorite meal at that special restaurant, or Christmas morning with the entire family happy and together.
And then he said something incredible as he started to drift off to sleep… “That would be awesome.”
Now I’m kind of slow, so the beauty of what had just happened escaped me until the next morning.
I didn’t deserve that.
Now I know what you’re thinking–“You’re a good dad! Your son wanted to be with you because you spend time with him, because you invest in that relationship.”
Well I certainly try to do those things, but you don’t understand. When Jonah said that, I was in the midst of one of the busiest weeks I’ve ever had as pastor at PBC. The day before was a sixteen hour day from start to finish. That day I was supposed to take off, but two important meetings crept into our schedule, turning the day into a longer day than most normal days at the office. To top things off, I was about to leave town for a three day conference. It was just one of those weeks.
That’s when the scandalous beauty of Jonah’s words hit me. He wanted to spend time with me–not because I had done a great job investing in our relationship–but simply because he loved me. Not because I had been a great dad, but because I was his dad.
And he wasn’t wishing for much. He didn’t wish for me to play Legos with him or shoot his BB gun. He wished for me to sleep beside him. To snore and slobber and sleep. Not me at my best, certainly. But I would be there. Beside him. Doing nothing else. But being there.
And when it all hit me, that’s when the tears started to flow.
God loves me like that. The God who created everything, loves me like that.
Even when I’m too busy. Even when I allow the clutter of life to invade the time that I should be spending with Him. Even when I neglect Him. Even when I overlook Him. Even when I forget Him.
He genuinely loves me. He wants to spend time with me. He sent His Son to invade this earth so He could call me His child. And He wants me to spend time with Him.
Not because I’m a great son, but because I’m His son.
Christian, God loves you like that. God loves you like that.
And He wants to spend time with you.
Maybe you’re here and you’re thinking, “But you don’t understand! I don’t know how to read my Bible. I don’t know how to pray! I’m not good at it!”
Remember, God’s not looking to spend time with you at your best. He loves you, even at your worst. Even when Jesus’ disciples slept in Gethsemane, He still wanted them to be there. And even when you’re at your worst, He wants to be near you too. Now that’s grace.
© M. Hopson Boutot, 2017