I love Shirley Temples. When I was a little girl we would drink them with my grandfather, so on special occasions with our kids, a bottle of Sprite and cherry grenadine is the perfect fit.  

My older boys make their own, pouring the ideal combination and carefully stirring the mixture together. One day, I heard some commotion from upstairs. I ran down to the kitchen and saw my two-year-old, Teddy, pour a full bottle of sticky red grenadine into a tiny bowl on top of a kitchen barstool. As the cherry deliciousness overflowed, spreading over the top, then running down the legs of the barstool and the front of my son onto the floor, it felt like a glimpse of what God sees when He watches me try to do life alone. In my mess of an effort, my Savior sees me dump all of the things that I think will fill the gap I feel in my soul, bringing sweet satisfaction, and as He watches them overflow onto the floor, He whispers, “There is only one thing.”

As Teddy runs his hands back and forth, rubbing the mess into the chair, trying to clean up his disaster, so I try to repair my own life, while God stands by me, with a large white towel, waiting for me to look up and ask Him to wipe my mess clean.  

Teddy’s eyes look up at me wide, knowing he is in thick, and I come to his rescue.  I don’t see his mess, I only see him, trying to do the things that aren’t his to do just yet, trying to do his life alone. I bend down tenderly and wipe his hands and front clean. I care about this sweet boy more than I care about the mess. I will wipe him clean, and we can start again.  

God cares more about me than my mess. As I make mistakes, He is waiting for me to look up, giving me a glimpse of who He is and how much He loves me. Allowing me to begin again, learning each step of the way, grasping more and more as I grow to discover who He is and what He dreams for my life. These glimpses of my God, His truths about the way life works best, are the reasons I wouldn’t want to go back to my twenties…those years when I was dumping grenadine, making a mess with my plans, thinking I knew better than my God, and why when I find myself in my forties, I likely won’t want to come back to today.  

I want to know the God who pursues me, not just about Him. I want to know this God who cares more about me than my circumstances, more about me than my mess. I want this God who is forever running to my rescue, allowing me to begin again. My God who is the one thing I need.    

This is the free life. This is the life I never knew I always wanted.