I smile. These moments — times when my kids proudly offer up their creativity and love — are so precious. It takes my breath away to be loved by their uninhibited hearts.
“I’m so excited!” I say to Kailey. “I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!” I take her hand and she leads me to her bedroom, where she stops mid-step and her smile turns to distress. “Oh, no!” she wails.
A pile of blocks sits on her floor, upside down and jumbled. The castle has been destroyed.
“My castle! Oh, no!” she says again, her voice breaking. Signs of an impending three-year-old meltdown are flaring.
“It’s okay,” I say, bending down next to her. “Don’t worry. We can fix it.”
The big brother mischievously looks up at me from the hallway. “There was an earth-quake!” he explains, his hands in the air. “Kailey, can you believe it?”
She cannot. She is picking up blocks, putting them down again. “I can’t do it,” she says. “I can’t fix it.”
”We can fix it together,” I tell her, kissing the top of her head. “Will you let Mommy help?”
She nods, already brightening. “Okay! You help me!”
Together, we pick up fallen blocks and rearrange them. I steady unbalanced towers and space out crowded corners. Together, we build a new castle.
“See?” she says, the smile back. “It’s for you!”
“I love it,” I say.
And I do. But it isn’t really the finished castle that I love. What I love is her sweet wish to give me something she created. I love that she was thinking of me as she sat in her lavender room, putting princess blocks together. I love how she beckons me into her adventure. I love that she loves me.
And in His amazing way, so our Father is pleased when we love Him… when we think of Him as we build our lives, when we invite Him into our worlds, when we say ‘come see, come see!’ everything in our hearts… and His presence is what brings us gladness… when we long to please Him with our creations, with our words and time and deeds… in this way, we bring Him joy.
But maybe you’re hesitant to invite Him in because you’ve had a sudden ‘life-quake’ and your hopes are lying in pieces, a jumble on the ground. Maybe you feel like you’ve worked so hard to build something good, only to see it fall apart… and you’re not sure how He’ll respond. Maybe you think He’ll turn away. Maybe you feel like He’ll be disappointed in your effort. Maybe you feel like you have nothing left to offer Him. But that just isn’t true.
Because it’s your heart that He really wants. And if you give Him your heart — your love, your faith, your trust — He’ll be faithful to complete His good work in you. We’re not meant to build His kingdom without His help. In fact, we can’t do it without Him. He is faithful to forgive, to strengthen, to guide us when we reach out our hands to His.
He is the restorer of broken things. In His hands, our ashes become opportunity. Opportunity for glory to be brought to His name and mercy anew to flow from the throne of grace. In Him, our old things pass away and all things in our lives can become new, made in His image.
Psalm 51 in the Message says it wonderfully – 16-17 I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. The NIV says it this way: (12) “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me…(16)You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
Please don’t wait another moment. Ask Him into your life. Surrender to Him every shattered piece. His love is bigger than our problems… His mercy is stronger than our failures. His peace is deeper than our fears and His joy stronger than our weakness. It doesn’t take a big gesture or certain words — just talk to Him. If you draw near to God, He’ll draw near to you. (James 4:8)
After Kailey and I repair her castle, we sit in her room together and play for a while. And I think of my Father, who has rebuilt so many broken walls of my heart… my Father, who never turns me away or is intimidated by the mess I can make of things… my Father, who loves me with a boundless love that endures forever. And all I can do, while watching my daughter fly her Tinker Bell doll through the air, is offer up a heart of worship.
Friends… come and see! Come and see! The Lord, He is good!
A Psalm of David, number 103 (the Message)…
1-2 O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!
3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.
6-18 God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.
19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels,
ready and able to fly at his bidding,
quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
everything and everyone made by God.
And you, O my soul, bless God!
Copyright 2002 Eugene H. Peterson