Before I started kindergarten, I was taught how to use a knife. While my friends were using blunt-nose scissors, I had a sharp pocket knife that could whittle a stick to the size of a toothpick. After a little practice, I learned to throw the knife with just the right spin for the blade to stick in the tree trunk. That was cool.
One day, Daddy looked mystified. “Have you seen my fishing knife?”
I shook my head. “Not me. I haven’t seen it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” He was going fishing, and the knife was missing from his tackle box.
Given some time to think about it, I had a faint memory of using the knife to dig in the hard earth out by the fence. Obviously, a pocket knife was too small, but the big fishing knife was perfect. Had I put it back after using it? I didn’t remember.
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. Where did I go after that? Probably to play with the boy who lived across the street.
Near the fence, I found the knife, the big blade now rusty. Would I get a spanking for lying to my father? What should I do?
I thought if the knife were where Daddy could find it somewhere other than my dugout, I wouldn’t be blamed. So I put the knife on the step outside the back porch and went inside to play. I didn’t want to be around when the knife was discovered.
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-five 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