Daddy looked mystified. “Have you seen my fishing knife?”
I shook my head. “Not me. I haven’t seen it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” Evidently, he was going fishing and the knife was missing from his tackle box.
Then I had a faint memory of using the knife to dig in the hard earth out by the fence. I’d been building a dugout where I could hide from Indians until they came close enough for me to raise my popgun and drop them from their horses. Then I went to play with the neighbor kid and forgot all about the dugout.
Near the fence, I found the knife, the big blade now rusty. I’d told Daddy a lie, which I didn’t know at the time, but now I knew. What should I do?
If the knife were where Daddy could find it, I wouldn’t be blamed. And I wouldn’t be spanked for lying. I put the knife on the step outside the back porch and went inside to play.
Late that afternoon, Daddy came in. He wasn’t smiling. “I found my knife on the back step. I wonder how it got there.” His expression said he wasn’t really wondering. He knew.
“Sorry,” I said. “I forgot.”
“I’m sorry too,” he said, giving me a hug, “because you could have come to me. I would have understood.”
That day was over sixty years ago, but I remember it as well as yesterday. Why? I learned something I could never forget. When I made a mistake, I didn’t have to fear my Dad, because he loved me.
Do you suppose that’s even more true of our relationship with our heavenly Father?
The fullness of our love for God leaves us no reason to cringe in fear of him. That’s because the fear is based on our anticipation of his punishment, which is impossible when our love in him is complete. — 1 John 4:18 paraphrase