Keith Wishum: That’s OK, baby!

Published 11:08 am Saturday, February 16, 2019

How does God put up with me?
The Bible and the preachers all say that he loves me unconditionally. They say he will always forgive me. But, I must confess, sometimes I wonder if they’re telling the truth. Maybe you do, too.
Something I learned when I saw God might help.
He was sitting in an ordinary folding chair. He looked pretty ordinary, too. Wearing khakis and a golf-shirt, he was right here in our little town, sitting along the sidelines of a youth soccer field. His daughter was on the field.
No, I didn’t literally see God. What I saw was someone acting like God, though, and it helped me to understand him a little better.
This guy was watching his daughter play soccer. She wasn’t very good. Actually, she was awful! Often, she was distracted by bugs or birds — anything except the ball that rolled right past her. When she did see it coming, she’d kick at the ball furiously, usually missing, and sometimes falling flat on her back. Other spectators tried not to laugh.
What did her dad do? That’s the part that got me thinking that maybe I was seeing what God is like. He wasn’t the least bit embarrassed by his daughter. He understood that she was just learning, and that, even if she never got good at the game, she was trying. When she missed the ball and fell, he yelled at her, not to fuss, but to encourage. “That’s OK, baby,” he’d say, clapping his hands for his girl. “That was a good try! You’ll get it next time!”
He didn’t care about the score. He didn’t care that his daughter was the least athletic player on the field. She was his, and he loved her long before she stepped on that field. He loved her when she messed up, and he would love her long after the game ended. He loved her for her, not for her soccer skills.
Like I say, I’m pretty sure I got a glimpse of God. He’s a father who wants to adopt us as his children. He loves us because we are his. If we don’t do well, “That’s OK, baby,” he says. “You’ll get ‘em next time!”
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.