A little messy, but still beautiful!
Have you ever messed up? I mean really messed up! Some messes are easy to clean-up. When I spill my glass of water, I just grab a towel and wipe up the spill. Inconvenient, yes, but still easy to clean-up. Usually other members of my family also grab towels to help me clean up my spill. But there have been other times when my messes are not so easy to clean-up. I backed our van into a phone/internet connection box at the end of the driveway one time. It was in my blind spot and I literally didn’t see it until I heard the crunch. We still have a dent in our back bumper – not as easy to fix as the spilled water. Without spending a sizable amount of money to replace the bumper, our van will bear the mark of my mistake until we trade it off. I learned a valuable lesson from my “oops” – double-check where things are at before backing up. Thankfully, my family forgave me, although I am still a little embarrassed by my accident.
What about other mess-ups? Some mess-ups take a lifetime to overcome.
Perhaps it was a lie you told that grew larger than life, maybe it was something even bigger such as being dishonest on a job or getting caught for shoplifting as a teen or getting yourself head over heels in debt by maxing out your credit cards or bad relationship. Whatever your mess-up and no matter how bad or unworthy or downright stupid you may feel, guess what? There is someone who loves you and wants to be your friend. Yes, the consequences and the evidence of your mess-up may linger, but Jesus still loves you and is ready to forgive you. Some mess-ups are hard to clean-up, some are hard to “fess”up to and some consequences are definitely lingering, yet you are not forgotten and it’s not too late to start again. Jesus is ready to help you make that fresh start.
Are you trying to hide from the pain and consequences of your past sin, your past mess-ups? Jesus knows. He knows exactly where you are and exactly what you did. He wants to forgive you if you will only give Him the chance.
Zacchaeus had messed-up big time. From what I gather from the story, he messed-up on purpose. He knew he was being dishonest by taking more money for taxes than he was supposed to. He knew he wasn’t very well liked. If he stopped to take a good look at where he was headed in life, he would see that while he was rich, he was coming up “short” in more ways than one. Yet, he had a desire and that desire was to see Jesus. I wonder if he thought, “I want to see Jesus, but I’m not so sure Jesus would want to see me.” Yet he determined to see Jesus and being short, the only way to see was to climb a tree. In the leafy branches of a sycamore tree, he could see without being seen. Until Jesus came that way. Jesus knew where Zacchaeus was. He knew what Zacchaeus had done. He also knew that Zacchaeus wanted to see Him. Jesus looked up in the tree and told Zacchaeus to come down because He was going to his house that day.
Jesus met Zachhaeus exactly where he was, forgave him and became His friend. In one moment with Jesus, Zacchaeus experienced love, acceptance and forgiveness. He was forever changed. He gave back what he had stolen. He helped the poor. Instead of living for riches, He began living for Jesus.
I wonder what past mess-ups loom large in your life? Are you having trouble forgiving yourself? Do you wonder why Jesus would want to be your friend? Trust me, Jesus does want to be your friend. He loves you. He knows you inside and out. He knows about your mess-ups, your sin and all your shortcomings. He’s just waiting for you to climb down from your “tree” and welcome Him into your life. He is more than ready to forgive. Like Zacchaeus, you can have a fresh start because when you meet Jesus, you will never ever be the same.
PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER
Looking back at my own life, I have some moments that I’m not proud of. I would like to explain those things away, find a reason for why I messed up or just outright sinned. Yet if I’m honest with myself, with you and with others; most of the things I’ve done that I’m not proud of were purely my bad choices. I remember yelling at my mom as a child when I completely lost my temper – for that matter I remember some times that as an adult I’ve lost my temper too. Of course there have been accidents, unkind words, times when I haven’t followed through with what I said I was going to do or who knows – I’m sure lots of others things. Yet you have always forgiven and helped me to get back up again. I guess those times when I have turned my back on you or allowed distractions to get in the way of my relationship with you are the times that have hurt me the most. Please forgive me. I thank you for your forgiveness and patience with me everyday. Lord, help me to forgive others even as you have forgiven me. As a parent and grandparent, show me how to offer love acceptance and forgiveness to my family too. Show me how I can model those qualities for my family. Amen
LOVE, ACCEPTANCE & FORGIVENESS
How can we show love, acceptance and forgiveness to our world? How can we help our kids to show love, acceptance and forgiveness?
- Know what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is not tolerance although tolerance may be used in the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness is also not saying that what someone else might have done to you is okay. Forgiveness is cancelling a debt or to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone. It is made up of two words – for and give. It’s letting go of our pain in order to give again. It’s what Jesus did for us. He took the pain of our sin to give us a relationship with God again.
- Talk about the feelings your child is experiencing before asking him/her to forgive. Your empathy will help him/her to begin the process.
- Unconditionally forgive your child when he/she does something. This doesn’t mean that there won’t still be consequences for his/her actions. Let your child know he/she is loved no matter what. There are times to extend grace and times for consequences. Ask God for wisdom to know which.
- Give your child time to forgive. It’s okay to say, “Sorry!” right away, but it may take some time to completely release those hurt feelings. Be patient.
- Don’t put conditions on your forgiveness. Forgiveness should be full and complete no matter what.
THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR CHILD
SHARE A STORY: A Little Man Meets Jesus – Luke 19:1-10
In Jericho, there lived a man named Zacchaeus. One day he heard that Jesus was coming through town. He was excited! He really wanted to see Jesus, but Zacchaeus wasn’t very tall. He wasn’t very tall at all! (Show short with hand.) How would he see (Hand by eyes.) around all the other people who wanted to see Jesus too? He stretched up as high as he could, (Reach up high.) he couldn’t see. (Hand by eyes.) He tried peeking (Peek-a-boo!) between people and squeezing through the crowd, (Wiggle shoulders as though trying to get through.) he still couldn’t see. (Cover eyes.)
Then he had an idea! “I know, I will run ahead (Run in place.) and climb (Pretend to climb. Climb, climb, climb!) that tree, then I will surely be able to see.” And that’s just what he did! He ran (Run, run, run!) and climbed (Climb, climb, climb!) up into the branches of a tree. Hooray! He could see! (Yeah!) He saw Jesus coming his way! This surely was a special day.
When Jesus reached the spot where Zacchaeus was. He looked up (Look up with hand above eyes.) right into the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. (Point down.) I am going to your house today.”
Zacchaeus quickly climbed down from the tree. (Pretend to climb down.) He was happy as happy could be! (Smile.) He thought, “Jesus wants to visit me!“ He quickly ran home to welcome Jesus. (Say, “Welcome Jesus!”) Zacchaeus was so happy that Jesus loved him. He said, “Jesus, I want to give back all that I owe and help people who are poor.”
Jesus loved and forgave Zacchaeus. (Give self a hug.) He wanted Zacchaeus to know that He would be his forever friend. Jesus was a good friend to Zacchaeus. Jesus loves you too. He loves you now when you are young and He will love you when you grow up. Let’s remember to love Jesus because He loves us so much and He is good to us. He is a good friend.
Thank you for loving me. I know you want to be my friend just like you wanted to be Zacchaeus’ friend. I love you. Amen
MEMORIZE: Acts 10:38 ERV – (Hold hands as though holding a book)
Jesus went – (Touch finger of one hand to palm of the other and vice versa)
Everywhere – (Spread hands out to the sides.)
Doing good – (Tap fists together, then touch fingers to mouth and bring down to touch other hand)
For people – (Point 2 fingers outwards with one hand and then the other rapidly)
KNOW: Jesus loved Zacchaeus and Jesus loves me.
TALK ABOUT: Ways Jesus shows His love for us.
ASK: Who loves you? Jesus loves me.
AND DO: What can you do? I can love Jesus because Jesus loves me.
* Weigh and measure your child this week. See how much he/she has grown. Jesus loved you when you were a little baby, and He loves you now. No matter what size you are or what you do, Jesus will always love you.
* Remember to let Jesus know that you love Him this week. When you pray with your child, say, “Thank you!” to Jesus.