The other night I was at the dinning room table sharing a late night snack with my three youngest children when something interesting happened. I was about halfway through a bowl of raisin bran when I noticed the concerned look on the face of my nine year old daughter.
“What’s wrong Nats?” I asked around a spoonful of cereal.
She kept her gaze fixed on her plate of corn chips for a long while and wrinkled her brow. I could see that she was having trouble responding, trouble finding the right words to express what was on her heart. She swallowed hard and sat back in her chair but kept her eyes on the chips while she spoke.
“It seems selfish for God to want us to sing songs about Him and to praise Him” she blurted out. “Is it Daddy?”
I took the time to thoroughly chew a bite of raisin bran before speaking. God had presented me with a golden moment and I didn’t want to toss it away with a glib response. I glanced at my six year old son across the table as I placed my cereal spoon in the bowl. His eyes were round with attention; evidently his sister’s concern struck a cord with him as well.
“Let me ask you something Nat. Do you like to give me gifts?”
“Yes” she nodded.
“And you know that I love to get gifts from you – especially things you make for me, right?”
She nodded again as I toyed with the spoon, stirring my raisin bran.
“How do you feel when I ask you to draw me a picture to put on my office wall? Do you think that’s selfish?”
“No!” She finally looked up at me.
“Well, I’m glad, because I love to receive gifts from you and the other kids – things you’ve made or things you buy.”
I reached out and brushed the hair away from her face.
“It makes me happy because I love you so much and when you give me something it reminds me of how much you love me.”
I could see the understanding dawn on her face as I continued.
“That’s how it is with God and us. He loves us and he enjoys getting gifts from us just like any Daddy would. In fact the Bible says that we can call Him our Daddy – remember that?”
“The gifts we give God are hymns, songs of praise, obedience to His word and things like that. God asks for those gifts because He is our Daddy – just like I ask for gifts from you because I’m your Daddy. Do you understand?”
She nodded again and smiled, obviously relieved. As I leaned over to give her a hug I glanced at her brother and saw that he was thinking through the conversation as well. I breathed a prayer of thanks to my Father in heaven and turned my attention to the bowl of soggy cereal.
(Continued In Part Two)