The freeing affect of a father’s non-frown

I have two boys right now. One five, and one almost three. Even though my five year old has been around a few years longer, my two year old has broken far more things in his shorter life. Lamps, glasses, dishes, radio attenanae on mini-van, and missing Roku controller-I can’t prove he discarded it somewhere but I’m pretty sure he did.

The other day while working in my first office (Atlanta Bread Co is office number 2), I heard a loud crash. Cade knocked over the lamp, again, but this time it landed on tile instead of carpet. That ended its 5 year period of providing light. 

But I didn’t get all that frustrated to come down and see the cracked lamp. Better it land on the tile than his little frame. And I don’t get too attached to lamps. 

I don’t know how much money Cade has cost me in broken items over the years, but I would guess it doesn’t add up to all that much. Whenever I become frustrated when one of my kids break things, I remember back to all of my father’s stuff I’ve broken over the years.

For some reason, in middle school, I worked on my baseball swing in the garage and dented the Porsche. In high school, I crashed a boat into our dock one afternoon because I had neglected to take the weeds out of the jet in the jet boat on the previous trip. After college, I left the boat lift on, went inside, and came back outside after I realized my mistake. Too late. The beautiful ski boat’s windshield was completely shattered against the roof.

I’ll never forget my father’s face. Instead of anger at what was one of the most expensive, avoidable, and stupid mistakes I’ve made, he said, “Hmmmm…….well……” Or something like that. I screwed up big time and my father’s face, instead of being filled with anger, was instead filled with compassion. He moved toward me, not away. He knew that I knew I had screwed up, and how bad and embarrassed I felt.

I’ve broken way more than my son will ever be able to break. So how angry should I get when he breaks things? Even more so, when I remember my father’s reaction, not angry at me for destroying his otherwise flawless boat, how can I become angry at my son? Believing in grace makes you a better parent. I need to believe more. Much more. 

If my dad had become vehemently angry with me, I would then be scared to mess up in the future. I would follow the best I could out of fear. That wouldn’t be the last thing I would break. I flew a remote controlled helicopter into a ceiling fan a few years ago. While I didn’t want to break it, fear wasn’t my motivator. I thought I would break it, and I even told him I would probably break it, and yet I wasn’t afraid to break it. And I did. But I desired not to break it out of love, not fear. You see, that’s one mark of a son.

Fear of failure may work for a job, but it doesn’t motivate sanctification. Jean Larroux, one of my favorite preachers, posed a question in a sermon, “Describe God’s face toward you now? A smile? OK, well what does His face look like after you sin? A frown?” 

Does God look down upon you with a a Jon Gruden-like scowl when you sin, but then smiles over you when you do something good? 

I don’t believe we lose that smile when we screw up. And I don’t believe we can put that smile back on His face when we don’t screw up. We’re just not that good, and our faith isn’t all that much better. 

If our Heavenly Father’s face doesn’t turn to a dark scowl when we screw up, doesn’t that motivate you to follow after Him with all of your heart? I didn’t cost Him a boat, but a Son. That’s steep. 

My dad could afford to pay for another boat. My Father already paid for all the “boats” I could break. Doesn’t this make me care about sin more than those who don’t know about grace? Doesn’t this make me want to honor a God like this in all that I do? If not, then we’re probably not really “getting” it.

I’m reminded of the old Hymn: “What Wondrous Love is This?”

When I sinking down, beneath God’s righteous frown, 
Christ laid aside his crown, for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul

The righteous frown for the Christian is over. We follow Him now in freedom, not in fear.

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3 thoughts on “The freeing affect of a father’s non-frown

  1. Geoff, this is a wonderful image which has stuck with me – that of a father seeing his son's sin and failure and not frowning. Makes me wonder about the posture my own sons see in me. Probably the hardest thing to maintain as a parent. As for God's attitude toward me, I know his love never fails, but I can't help but believe that he is disappointed in me when I sin or fail to believe in the gospel he's made so clear to me. I fear no rejection – but for him not to be disappointed in some way seems to make him a plastic and artificial person. Help me out!

  2. By the way, a reason for migrating to WordPress would be to get rid of the frustrating and irritating requirement that I try to read unreadable text to prove I'm not a robot in order to comment.

  3. Randy,Thanks for commenting. I understand the question and have wrestled with it myself. I'm so proud of my son Connar, simply because he's my son. I'm pleased with him because I placed my love upon him the second He was born. But can I still be pleased in an overall sense with him, and still be saddened when he dishonors me? Somehow God placed love upon us before the foundation of the world and yet I was still at some point His enemy (Rom 5:8). Perhaps both pleasure, and some form of displeasure can co-exist in the same person?Also can I be saddened/angered at something Connar does without scowling at Him? I think so, even though I'm subject to my emotions in a way that God isn't. Can God be displeased with the action but still be pleased with me? I think.Or another way to understand it is that my union (and God's pleasure over me in Christ) doesn't change but my communion sure does when I willfully continue sinning. Its easier for me to think of it that way. Does any of this stuff make any sense? Thanks for the great question Randy!Maybe some more blog posts to come.

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