Throne of Grace
by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
Show me a mom who has not faced a full-on meltdown in the Publix checkout and we can put her in the zoo—because she would be a rare bird indeed. I don’t know a mother who has escaped this inevitable situation. Try to remember the last time this happened to you in public: how did it make you feel?
Now that my kiddos are basically grown, memories of those catastrophes have faded very much to the background, but in the moment they were absolute torture. Every eye and ear tuned into my agony, watching and waiting to judge my reaction. (Or at least it certainly felt that way.)
The truth is that every child has pulled this stunt at some level because he or she believes the world revolves around him or her. But we can’t stop there: this child inherits this very trait from her parents. Yes—we adults believe that the world revolves around us too. Truth be told, some of those meltdowns were the direct consequence of my lingering far too long in the lamp aisle at Target while our kids were pleading with me to leave. We are all intrinsically selfish creatures, born into our sinful nature, and the sooner we acknowledge this reality, the better off we will be.
By “acknowledging this reality”, I don’t mean resigning myself to misery until my children graduate. What I mean is by acknowledging this reality, the sooner I confess this condition—this complex, messy and ugly sinful state in which I find myself and those I love—the sooner I can call out to the only One who can do anything about it.
The good news on this is the Good News: that God the Father loved us and gave His Son for us, before we were ever remotely interested in Him, while we were/are still very selfish creatures. Jesus didn’t primarily come to teach us good moral character or to heal or raise others from the dead, although that did happen. What He did come for was my sin- even against those who live under the same roof as me -- my selfishness and greed and envy and lust. He paid for all of it at the cross because I could never, ever pay that debt. (Heck, I can’t even serve my husband breakfast without keeping score on whether he’s going to put his coffee cup in the dishwasher or leave it in the sink again.)
This is what the Gospel gives: a message of hope for hopeless people, drowning in our inability to sustain any meaningful change in our lives or effectively lead our children to do so either. Point in case, after leaving said Target aisle, I make a silent promise that I will never do that to myself again—and then I turn around and do it, even as all the other customers collectively groan, “There goes that lamp lady.”
As Tim Keller likes to say, “The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
Therefore, when I sin (again and again and again), I can come boldly to throne of grace to help me in my time of need, if I am willing to admit that need. This need is not “just get me through this day to my wine glass.” Rather, this need is “I cannot possibly do this on my own. I cannot possibly face these challenges without the mercy and kindness of God, who loves me and longs to shepherd me in this life.”
I don’t know a time when I have faced my need more—my complete inability to save or change or help— than in parenting, when my sin is mirrored back to me from the heart of my three year-old (or my thirteen year-old). Especially in the checkout line.
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.