Is God happy when we fail?
My uncle Bill helped start an orphanage in Kenya. The majority of the children that attend are victims of the AIDS crisis that is ravaging Africa. One of the Kenyan couples adopted a young girl that was born HIV positive. Typically, if there is going to be an adoption of this type it happens when the child is still a baby. But for some reason, this little girl had always been passed over and spent the first 5 years of her life waiting to be adopted at a different orphanage.
When the couple came to speak at my dad’s church, the father said something interesting about the little girl. He said “We kept hoping that she would be disobedient and break the rules.” As a young father, I have to confess this hope has never crossed my lips with my own children, nor will it ever get the chance as strong willed as both my kids are. In general, rule breaking seems like a strange thing for any father to wish for, but this dad had a reason.
“When we first adopted her, she tried her hardest to be perfect. This little six year old girl was terrified that if she broke the rules she would be kicked out of the family and sent back to the orphanage. For her, breaking the rules would be a sign that she was comfortable and was no longer living in fear.”
I wonder if God is ever like that? Not that he wants us to break the rules, sin is never something God desires for us, but when we do, is he like that father? Does he see that sin as an opportunity to pull us closer and reaffirm our place in the family instead of sending us back to an orphanage? When we fall and come back to him with new bruises, is he quick to tell us we still belong to him?
I think so. In Psalm 103: 3-4, God is described as he “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with compassion.”
The most important part of that passage is the word “from.” On the surface it’s a transition word, but the reality is that “from” represents the difference between man and God. In the world, when you fall into a pit, you’re expected to clean your act up. To get yourself together. To straighten up. In every job you’ve ever had and most of the relationships you’ve been this verse would read, “who redeems your life after the pit.”
But in God’s world, He comes to the pit. He redeems us from the pit. Not once we’ve managed to get out of it, but from the middle of it. From the deepest part of the pit. He gets down with us in the pit and rescues us from it. Not after it.
I’m sure that little girl in Kenya has failed at this point, that’s kind of one of the things we all do. But I’m sure that when she shared that failure with her father, he didn’t return her to the orphanage. Because his rescue was a one way trip. There will be no going back.
Whether she fails a 100 times or a million times, that decision was already made.