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The Book Report

For The Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with Victory.

-----Psalm 149:4 NIV

Do you remember your first book report? I haven’t the faintest recollection of mine, but I will never forget my son’s.

Nick was a seven-year-old first-grader when he brought the assignment home. It was as simple as you would expect a first-grade book report to be:

. Select a book from home or library. . Answer four questions.

. Don’t forget to write your name in the top right corner.

. Turn in on Friday.

The project came home on a Monday. Nick’s library day was Wednesday. Not wanting him to select a book he had already read, I told him to pick one out at school, bring it home, and we would work on it together that afternoon.

Now for a moment of context.

The book report assignment came home while I was in the middle of an intense period of preparation. At the beginning stages of writing lessons for a women’s retreat, I was studying everything I could get my hands on having to do with ancient Israel.

One day my son and I were snuggling on the couch and found a documentary on--you guessed it--ancient Israel. As the show’s host guided our tour, I would periodically comment on how much I would love to travel to the country one day and walk in the footsteps of Christ.

Back to the book report.

Tuesday night, as I tucked my children into bed, I reminded my son to pick a book for his assignment.

Wednesday afternoon, as the kids climbed into the car, it was the first thing out of his mouth:

“Mom, I got a book and you’re going to love it!”

“I can’t wait to see it, honey, but let’s wait until we get home.”

Once the snack was eaten and my daughter was settled with her math, I turned to Nick.

“Okay, buddy, let’s see what you picked!”

Crumpled paper and crumbs tumbled out of his backpack as he fumbled for the book. Glimpsing the cover, my eyes immediately filled with tears as a lump swelled in the back of my throat.

“Look, Mom, it’s on Israel,” he proudly exclaimed.

I slowly turned it over in my hand. It was a textbook, not a storybook, roughly two inches thick. The font was smaller than his seven-year-old eyes were used to, and there were far more words than pictures.

“What made you choose this book, buddy?”

“It’s a God book,” he said, puzzled at my reaction. “Plus, I knew you’d like it.”

Be still my heart.

My sweet son had thought of me. While he was combing through the aisles of brightly colored covers, he bypassed Frog and Toad, The Doug Chronicles, Junie B. Jones, and The Dork Diaries to choose abookforonereasonalone:to please me.

“I love it.” I whispered as I caught him up in a bear hug. “I just love it.”

His pleasure it not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; The Lord delights in those who fear hi, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

-----Psalm 147:10-11

Did my son’s book choice make me love him more? No, in fact, that is not even in the realm of the possible, because my love for both Caitlyn and Nick has nothing to do with their behavior and everything to do with their identity. They are mine, and my love for them is unchangeable. But when they think of me, when they seek to please me, my heart nearly bursts with delight.

I hope that brings you a measure of peace. This is how your Heavenly Father loves you.

Your good works can’t make Him love you more, just as your sin can’t make Him love you less. His love for you is not connected to your behavior.

I’d like you to read that one more time.

His love for you is not connected to your behavior. His love for you is not affected by your love for Him or lack thereof. It is not connected to your faithfulness or your faithlessness, your selflessness or selfishness; nor does it hinge on how often you go to church, how much you read your Bible, or how much money you give.

His love for you has nothing to do with what you do and everything to do with who you are.

If you are in Christ, you are His. Com- pletely, irrevocably, inexorably His, and when God’s children seek to please their Heavenly Father, His heart overflows with delight.

My children make plenty of mistakes. They push their boundaries and test my patience. They fight, they holler, and then can turn a clean house into a disas- ter zone in less time than it takes me to cookdinner.

It doesn’t shock me. I expect it. It is part of the growth process. And because I am a loving mom, I discipline them. Not to punish, but to correct and instruct.

You have and will make plenty of mistakes. You will push your boundar- ies and test His patience. You will sin accidentally and sometimes deliberately. You will silence His whispers and ignore His nudges.

He is not shocked by this. He saw it coming, which is why all of us need a savior. And because He is a loving Father, He disciplines us. Not to punish, but to correct and instruct; to bring you closertoHim,that youmightknow Him better and discover the joy only found in obedience. The more you know this joy, the more you’ll seek to please Him.

And you do please Him, not because of you, because of Christ. But when you choose His will over your way, you delight Him.

Ultimately, Nick picked a different book. But later, as we sat flipping through his first choice, he turned to me and asked, “Can I take you to Israel someday Mom?”

Tears threatened to spill down my cheeks and smudge my mascara.

“You bet you can, buddy. We will go to Israel someday, and will show you all the places where Jesus walked.”

“Will we see Him there?”

“No. But we’ll feel Him.”

Oh, be still, my heart.

The Lord your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

-----Zephaniah 3:17-18

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