We have some neighbourhood boys who have taken delight in our big net-enclosed trampoline. They head on over with their quad, ring the doorbell and ask if they can jump away. I always smile and say "of course!" Finally, I told them they were welcome anytime and did not have to ask each time. So every now and again, I would glance out the front window to see these two boys jumping with big grins on their faces, doing flips and other acrobatics that leave me cringing inside for their safety, but thanking God for the safety of the net around them!
Sigh... I do suppose boys will be boys, right?
For weeks now I have watched them but earlier in the week, Anika came running in from the front yard yelling "THE BOYS MADE A BIG HOLE IN THE NET!!" I made my way to the door only to watch the boys leaving on their quad. Sure enough, I followed Anika who showed me a six square-inch rip at the base of the net.
At first, I felt really disappointed. Could it be that the boys did not realize they had ripped the net? That's a pretty significant rip to not have to have pulled your own foot out of. Did one of the boys get hurt? Did they take off because they felt ashamed or scared that I would be angry with them? Should I go over and speak with them or wait until they come back?
Finally, Duane was the one who wisely said "Sometimes with boys, it takes them a few days to fess up to something they feel bad about. Give them some time and they'll come by."
But several days came and went and I was sad to see that they weren't coming by anymore. More than anything, I missed seeing their big goofy grins as they jumped ridiculously high. I missed knowing we could provide these boys with something that made them laugh as they would. As each day passed, I was sad that they were letting what I assumed was their shame from coming back... and I missed them.
To my delight, a couple of days ago, the eldest of the boys came to my door. He looked truly sorry and could barely look me in the eyes. I was just so happy to see him as I knew exactly why he was there. He shuffled his feet and said with great remorse, "Mrs. Vaags, I am really sorry about breaking your net." I just couldn't help myself and asked him if I could give him a hug and he nodded and let me pull this big tall young man into my arms. I looked him straight in the eyes and said "I am so proud of you for coming and telling us. I was hoping you would do exactly that. We know that accidents happen and that you did not mean to break the net. It's okay." He seemed a little choked up as he asked "Is there anything we can do to fix it?" I simply replied that we would do what we can to mend it but that in the end, it is just a net. Finally I asked "Is this why you haven't been by? Because you felt bad?" He looked at the ground and nodded. Again, I looked him straight in the eyes and said "I want you to know that you can always come to us if something has happened that you feel bad about. I have missed your big smile when you jump on that trampoline and I'm just glad that you came by as you did."
As I watched him walk away, I had to fight the tears from my own eyes as it hit me like a tonne of bricks how often I have "hidden" myself from God because I have felt ashamed of my own choices. How often has He simply waited for me to come to Him with the information He is more than aware of to be accountable? How often has He missed me while I struggled with my sins? And does He feel this happy when each of us finally takes that walk up to His door, dreading His wrath or judgement, only to be met with the sheer joy that shame has not kept us apart anymore?
So these boys reminded me of a very valuable lesson in my own faith. Even as I type this, I think of how meagre my own joy is in comparison to what our very FATHER would feel when we finally come to Him! I am grateful that there is a hole in our net. Part of me doesn't know if I want to fix it or not (although the practical side of me says 'um, yes, small children need to not have their legs fall through that hole!). But I am glad that even if fixed, the marked difference will be our reminder not to hide from our Father because we feel ashamed. There is nothing He does not already know and He misses us more than we can realize when we create that separation from Him.
May these words find you thinking of times you have felt frustrated by something going wrong and the hidden message God slipped in there for you. May you look back on those moments with the eyes to see what He longs us to see.... and may you feel lifted as you let go of past hurts realizing they have been your blessings all along. Isn't that just how He works? What initially feels like a punishment, is an incredible opportunity to see His grace and His love! How many times have I missed it?
God bless you all out there and may you close that gap of shame that keeps you from knocking on his door to say "I am sorry." He waits eagerly and misses you with all of His big heart. And if you find there's a big lineup to His door, chances are you'll see me there, too!