Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Toolbox Daddy’s Little Boy Made

When I was a little boy, my father decided that I should have a toolbox of my very own. So he told me that I would make a toolbox for myself. It would be like some of the other toolboxes that he had.

He supplied the materials. He carefully measured and sawed the wood to precise specifications. He applied the glue. He drove the nails. If I remember correctly, he gave me the nails to hold for him and then had me help him to hold the pieces of wood in place. When it was securely fastened, he gave me some paint and a brush with which to apply a couple coats of paint. When it was dry, he secured the hardware to the box along with some leather straps to hold the lid open.

When all was done he told me what a good job I had done. Now my box was ready for my tools, my own hammer and saw and screwdriver, which Daddy also gave to me.

This is how God does with His children, too. He performed the work of redemption and salvation. He established His Church for preaching of the Gospel and administration fo the Sacraments. He generates faith in the heart through these means. He baptizes the child into His Church. He gives His Holy Spirit to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify His children. He supplies all that is needed, even the faith by which His children believe. Then he gives them some paint to brush on, that is, He gives them the good works that flow from their faith-filled hearts to embellish their lives, and he gives them the tools for their lives of faith. In the end, He tells them what a good job they have done.

I still have the toolbox that my daddy made for me. It has been through quite a bit of abuse over the forty-five or so years that I have used it. It still functions perfectly. I still hear his words telling me what a good job I did.

I also still have the faith and life that the Lord built for me. I continue to believe in accord with that faith and to live in accord with that life. And I still hear Him tell me what a good job I have done. He is our true Father and we are His true children. He provides all that is good and then tells us what a good job we have done, even though it all has been worked by Him.

This wonderful perspective is what He declares in the Aaronic Benediction:

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and grant you peace. Amen.

I especially love the look upon my wife’s face every time that she hears these words, especially after I explained them in fuller detail. The first sentence seems to be understood fairly easily, although its richness is certainly greater than most people first realize. But the second and third reflect the Lord’s attitude toward His children over and above His gracious blessing and providence and protection. Here He promises that He lifts us up from our guilt and shame, having proclaimed His Gospel to us and having fed us at His Table of forgiveness and life, and He makes His face to shine with the loving pride that He has as our Father who has declared us to be righteous with the righteousness of Jesus. He promises that rather than looking down upon us with the disgust that we have earned for ourselves, rather than looking down and away from us as we deserve, He lifts up His countenance so that we see how He loves us and takes pride in us and calls us to Himself so that we receive that peace of His Holy Communion. The divine service closes with His promise that He lifts up His countenance upon us, showing us His smiling face of love and mercy, so that we have the peace that surpasses all understanding that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

God does it all for us and then He says to us: “Look and see how pleased I am with you, my wonderful children.”

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