Spilled Milk

Happy Friday, my Friends!

Do you feel the holiday train picking up speed yet? I sure do! As we all brace ourselves for the onslaught of holiday festivities, I am reminded of the grace that I so desperately need. The more busy I get, the less patience I have. So not only do I need to receive grace, I need to give grace as well.

As I read through Psalm 103 this morning, I was reminded of one of my posts from earlier this year that deals precisely with that. As I continue to take time this month to reflect on some of the things I have learned this year, I thought I might share this previous post again because frankly, it's a lesson I need to consider often.

Dear Momma, I hope today you and I can both rest in the grace God has provided and invite our children to do the same.


Spilled Milk

In our house, there is no lack of spilled milk. From sippy cups that slowly drip a puddle under the couch, in spite of their leak proof promises, to the full blown torrents of milk that gush from the carton and land on the kitchen counter completely missing the cereal bowl. There have been days when my response has been to roll my eyes and hand the 7 year old a stack of paper towels with a grunted order to clean up her mess. Other days I have compassionately hugged the awkward child who is still learning to do big kid things for herself, and remind her that everyone makes messes and it’s ok, as long as we clean them up.

Admittedly, on my worst days, I yell with scathing words, “I told you to watch what you were doing!” or “If you weren’t bouncing around in your seat you wouldn’t haven’t spilled!”

Sometimes spills are caused by carelessness. Most times they are caused by immaturity. Occasionally, they are caused by a bad decision to do something that one knows they shouldn’t, like climbing on top of the kitchen table to grab their sister’s cookie out of her hand - crash goes the cup of milk. Whatever the cause, when milk spills, what is needed more than the Brawny man, is grace.

I have spilled a lot of milk in my day, from careless words that have injured others, to immature choices that led to unfortunate consequences, and definitely bad decisions to do things that I knew full well I shouldn’t do.  Most of my mistakes though result from absentmindedness. As a teenager, I had a constant tally of demerits in school for forgetting homework or failing to get signatures on parental forms.

I have a daughter who is a lot like me. Her head is always elsewhere, lost in thought, focused on the pictures in her imagination, unaware of what’s right in front of her. She spills a lot of milk too. Like her mother, she requires a lot of grace. Fitting that her middle name is Grace, isn’t it?

However, receiving God’s love and grace can be hard to accept. We know our own depravity too well. We know how far we are from being who we should be. We know how much milk we’ve spilled. It feels better to be punished than to be forgiven. It feels right to receive what we deserve. Go ahead and give us detention, we should have remembered the rules. Our pride does it's work well.

Yet, when we refuse to receive grace, we disdain the work of Christ on the cross, and the justice that it provides. We fail to acknowledge that the punishment for our sin has already been dealt. The wrath of God that we rightly deserve has already been spent. The mess we made (and have yet to make) has already been cleaned up. We think our choices are to pay for our crimes, or take advantage of God’s grace and get off scot free. Our self-righteousness pushes us towards punishment. Our immaturity pushes us to abuse the grace of God.

Neither of those things is the result of God’s grace. When we accept God’s grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are accepting that the crime has been paid for, yet we don’t walk away as though nothing happened. When someone takes a bullet for you, it changes the way you live life moving forward.

Grace abounds when there has been a lot of sin (Romans 5:20), and that grace flows through us to others. We live differently. We see others through the lens of forgiveness and compassion. We worship with more humility because God’s grace brings loving correction that moves us toward changed hearts, rather than final damnation.

The days when I yell at my kids the most for making mistakes are usually days when I am struggling to accept God’s grace for myself. Those are the days that my own depravity looms in front of me, taunting me with the disgusting nature of my own soul. I struggle to accept grace and therefore struggle to give it to others.

But those days when my eyes are fixed on Jesus, and the loveliness of his work fills my view, I am quick to offer grace to the offensiveness of others. When my kids spill their milk literally, I am reminded of the milk I have spilled metaphorically, and I am delighted to show my kids what God’s grace looks like as I clean up their mess and hold them tight, whispering “It’s ok, Mommy will help you”. And as I help them clean up I can gently teach them again what they need to do differently in order to spill less in the future. I disciple them as Jesus disciples me.

I have lost count of how many times the Father has cleaned up my mess, held me tight, and whispered, “Don’t worry, Sweet One. My Son has already cleaned it up for you.”I have watched as the hands still bearing the scars of my sin have graciously mopped up the spills in my life with his own blood. Me… His enemy! How can I not extend this same grace to my own children, my husband, my brothers and sisters in Christ and especially the lost who need a representation of God’s forgiveness? We all make a lot of mistakes. We do not need to cringe in fear of the punishment we know we deserve. Rather, we look to our Heavenly Father, who loves us, even when we spill our milk.

My prayer for both of us today, is that we will accept God’s grace. We may want to argue that we don’t deserve it and we’d be right. I pray that the pain of humility that comes with receiving a gift one does not deserve will not keep us from embracing it completely. I pray that our pride will not convince us to try to bear our own punishment, but rather rely on Jesus’ payment for our sin. I pray that we will know, that in spite of all the milk we’ve spilled, Jesus loves us deeply. He is not waiting to scold us harshly for our mistakes. See how patiently he cleans it up? I pray we will have the grace to do the same for our sweet babies, so that they may see God’s love and grace through the kindness of their own mommies who are trusting in the saving grace of Jesus.

Bless the LORD...who forgives all your iniquity...who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy...The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust...Bless the LORD.                

Psalm 103

For further encouragement:

Luke 7:44-50