I was sternly explaining to Emerald what was going to happen if she repeated a certain behavior today. I asked her if she understood. “Yes, I understand…. Mama, are you still nice?” “Yes, I’m still nice, ” I told her. “Ok, great!” she said cheerily as she galloped away.
I watched her go, and thought of the one million and twelve things that I had done for her already today. How my entire day, every day is wrapped up in her and her brother and sister. How I do all I can to help them live happy, productive, God-honoring lives. And, I had to smile at the thought that she was checking to see if I’m still nice.
Is it considered nice to love someone so much you feel like your heart will explode? Is it nice to know without a doubt that you would sacrifice yourself for them? Is it nice to continually think of and pray for and giggle with and bathe and read to and feed and clothe and comfort and cater to someone? If so, then, yes, I am nice. I’m nice to Emerald and to her brother and sister.
But, there are times when I have to be stern with them. When I have to discipline them. When I have to teach them hard lessons. Speak the truth for their own growth and strength of character and spiritual development. There are times when I fiercely protect them from what may harm them, and in order to do that, I may have to keep them from doing what they want to do.
But, despite my stern warnings and the punishments that I sometimes have to dole out, yes, I am “nice” in the way that a mama would jump in front of a moving train to save her child. In the way that a mama wants nothing more than to see her children thrive and enjoy life and work hard and love Christ.
We all tend to have Emerald’s mindset about God, though, don’t we? When things aren’t going our way? When bad things happen? When prayers linger in the space between our hearts and God’s sovereignty, unanswered? When we read His word, and His way of living seems to hard to accept? Despite the fact that every good and perfect gift comes from Him, we still have a tendency, when we are hurting, to wonder if He’s still nice.
We wonder if He still cares. If He sees us at all. We question His goodness. We doubt His wisdom. And, even though we waver in our trust, He continues to do what is best for us. He continues to love us. To be stern with us when necessary. To show us where we lack in faith. To strengthen us through trials. He continues to walk with us every step of the way, through the sunny fields and the thorny hillsides.
He does all of this because He is “nice” in the way that a God sacrifices everything for our salvation. In the way that the Creator of the World works everything, even the really bad stuff, out for good. In the way that He never leaves us or forsakes us. He is beyond nice. He is good, trustworthy, and pure. And, His love is beyond anything we have experienced on this earth, even us mamas.
As for Emerald, I’m sure she’ll have lots more moments of questioning my niceness through the years. But, I pray that somehow in all the protecting and the correcting, she will begin to see small glimpses of the kind of love that God has for her. A love that is concerned with righteousness, grace, and abundant life.