As Christmas approaches, so do many special events and traditions that bring us joy and delight. I think God smiles when He sees His “children at play” on earth, just like a dad’s fondness over watching his child be delighted by life. My own dad is the perfect picture of this, especially when he drives the boat while I wakeboard behind it during warm summer months. Wakeboarding is already a treat for me, but my dad knows how to make it extra special.
When we come to a smooth, glassy stretch of water, Dad will make a circular motion with his finger – my indication that if I get outside the wake, he’ll put me on “the whip.” So, I cut outside the left wake as hard as I can, and as I do, he sharply turns the boat to the right, sending me flying across the water so fast that I catch up with the boat. Dad glances back at me, and my uncontainable delight is written all over my face. Sometimes Mom will take a picture of me, but I really wish that I was the one with the camera to snap a picture of Dad. I’m not sure who enjoys that moment more: me because I’m having fun, or Dad because I’m having fun by his design.
It’s Dad’s great joy to make his family happy. And he sacrifices his own comforts because he is so gratified by making us happy, like when he sends Mom and I on one of our beloved travel adventures. He doesn’t like being home alone. In fact, he misses Mom terribly when she’s gone. But it makes it all worth it to him when we come back and joyfully tell him about our exploits.
One of my favorite memories from these adventures is when Mom and I went to see the musical Les Misérables for the first time in London. Since I had read the book in high school (all 1500 unabridged pages…phew!), I was familiar with the storyline, but I was fully unprepared for the masterpiece I saw. It’s 32 years on stage has earned it the title of the world’s longest running musical. The biblical themes of grace versus justice woven throughout the story can’t be ignored.
Jean Valjean, the central character whose very name means “God is gracious,” is an ex-con hardened by his 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. After his release, he steals silver from a kindly bishop. When Valjean gets caught, the bishop shows him mercy and challenges him to use the silver for God’s glory. Valjean then launches into an emotional song lamenting his sin and describing how the Holy Spirit is moving within him to live his life for God. He spends the rest of his life showing mercy to those around him as a reflection of the mercy God showed him.
On that starry night long ago, God the Father sent His Son to earth in the ultimate display of mercy. He sacrificed His beloved Son, providing a way for His adopted children to spend an eternity of delight with Him. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). He rejoices when sinners come to find their joy in Him (Luke 15:7). God rejoices over showing us mercy!
How can you reflect God’s mercy to others this Christmas season?
Family Radio Staff