The joy of watching a dated movie from the top bunk of my son's bunk-bed, on the world’s tiniest screen (I think it’s a 10-incher!), with three little rugrats who are poking their static-haired heads out from the heaps of blankets, is comparable to the joy of watching a new flick on the big screen at the theatre.
The movie du’ jour was a cute cartoon starring Robin Williams named, “Robots”. It’s amusing laughing at jokes the kids don’t get yet; like when the proud new robot-parents celebrate the arrival of their new baby-robot because it was successfully delivered by their mail man robot...in a box! As they put together their little baby-robot they are surprised to discover an extra piece in the box of baby-parts, which they soon realize is because it’s a BOY!
Wouldn't it be nice sometimes if our kids were robots and we could program them to be obedient and joyful at all times? There would be other perks too, such as turning them off at bedtime and removing their mouth-piece if they wouldn’t stop talking our ears off!
But if my children were robots, one of my all-time favorite moments would seem completely meaningless. I melt into a Mama-puddle anytime they jump into my arms and whisper these three words, “I love you.”
If I knew that I had programmed them to tell me and their daddy these sentiments, then it would seem very unsentimental. If these words didn't come from their sweet little hearts, I wouldn't truly cherish the way their tiny fingers cup my face as their eyes meet mine and they each declare their love in their own unique way, “I wuv ew, Mommy” or “Mama, I love you lots n’ lots.”
Because could love really be love if it weren't a choice?
Something my husband and I thoroughly enjoy is taking one of our children out on a “Mommy/Daddy Date”. It’s a special outing that usually involves a special drink (thank you to our date-night sponsor of Icee drinks), a stop at the park or lake to feed the ducks and sometimes (if they’re really lucky), a visit to their favorite store where they get this surprise, “Pick out any toy you want!!” Of course, this is usually followed up with, “Okay, except that toy for $54.99. How about ANY toy you want…for under $5?!” Thankfully, they are just as happy with that!
I haven’t yet had this happen, but imagine with me that I were to ask our four-year-old, Gideon, if he wanted to join me for a Mommy Date and he replied, “No thanks.”
Well, I would think, he must not realize how great of a time this is going to be. So I would crouch down eye-to-eye with my son and carefully explain what our date would be like,
“You would get a special drink, we could feed the ducks and you could even pick out a new toy. Maybe we could stop and rent your favorite Batman show at the video store. What do you think, big guy?”
If Gideon were to just shrug and say, “No, I’d rather stay here and go to bed.” (then obviously this is going to be a BIG stretch of the imagination), I would maybe have his Daddy explain how much fun we could have or have his brother who is a BIG fan of the “Mommy/Daddy Date” encourage him to go. But if Gideon STILL refused and I threw him over my shoulder, carried him kicking and screaming out to the van and buckled him into is car-seat, saying,
“Well I love you kid, so you WILL spend time with me.” I don’t think you would be voting for me to win a “Mother of the Year” award...and rightly so!
Because could you truly enjoy spending time with someone that forced you to be with them?
There is a reason God doesn't spit us off of an assembly line as pre-programmed robots. He created precious children made of flesh, blood and the ability to make their own choices.
He carefully hand-made each one of us, placing unique giftings and passions in our hearts. He knew our first day of "Kindergarten" would come: a day that we would enter a crazy world full of hurt and confusion. So He stuck a love letter (His Word) in our backpacks of how to survive (and even thrive!) in the madness of it all; and, most importantly, how to get back home. He then carved out a hole in our hearts that He knew only a God-parent madly in love with their child could fill.
And then he waited. And He is still waiting for us.
God is waiting for us to choose to love him. He could have programmed us roboticly (is that even a word?) to say, “I love you, God. I love you, God.” but then, it wouldn’t be love, it would be a mindless program doing what it was programmed to do. How boring!
And in the same way, God doesn't send people to hell. People choose to go there when they choose to reject God and His loving invitation to join him in Heaven for eternity. Hell was not designed for us, Heaven was. But when we refuse God and His offer this is the only place there is that exists without Him.
God is preparing the ULTIMATE “Daddy Date” in Heaven. Jesus is a BIG fan of the “Daddy Date” and he came to urge us to go. He told us they are preparing a feast for us (Isaiah 25:6) that cherry Icees will have nothing on! Jesus also said a place is being built for us (John 14:2) and being that He is the most famous Carpenter in the world, I’m thinking it will put every house on the "Parade of Homes" tour to shame. The alternative post-life hang out is much more scary than any monster hiding under the bed at bed-time. The alternative is hell and Jesus had a lot to say about that place too.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. Mark 9:43
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment. 2 Peter 2:4
He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:51
After reading these passages, one could conclude two things:
1. Jesus did not care about winning popularity contest, He cared about speaking the truth, straight up and from the heart.
2. Is there a hell? HELL, YES! And hell ain’t no party.
We could choose to not love God and say “no thanks” when He opens His loving arms to us, inviting us on an eternal “Daddy Date”. The beauty of the way God created us is that we are free to make that choice, to love him or to reject Him. To jump in the van and buckle in for an adventure of our lifetime or to choose the darkness with stuff scarier than any monsters in the closet.
God does know what’s best for you, He could throw you over his big shoulder, march you into Heaven and make you spend forever with him.
But is that really love?
Because ultimately, who we love and whether or not we choose to spend time with them (including forever) is a CHOICE.
Being a big fan of the “Daddy Date”, if you asked me if it would be a good choice to love God and spend eternity with him, I would say,
“God and Heaven...definitely YES! Hell...NO!”
"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in hell choose it." -C.S. Lewis