Does God still love us when we defy him?

How I love our youngest grandbean – active as a kitten tripped out on catnip, and equally adorable. He’s two now, the age of fierce and irresponsible independence; of fearless defiance displayed to any and all who get in his way – including those many times his size. Even his Nana.

“GO WAY!” Ezra told me more than once last weekend, when I accompanied him and his parents on a trip to Banff, Alberta. This came often when I tried to help him with the many things toddlers need help with. Small things. Not squeezing between the open stair railings several stories up. Not eating (too much) ABC gum from restaurant chair bottoms. Not (energetically) re-programming a computer or (with great enthusiasm) hand-washing the toilet bowl or escaping down the hotel hall, naked as a plucked turkey.

He especially needed help with not staying up past my bedtime in our hotel room. At 10:30 one night, even the shadow puppets had retired from exhaustion. The puppeteer, too. Me. As limp and flat as the bottom sheet stretched across the bed.

I had tucked him into his cot, turned out the lights and tumbled into bed. A moment later he untucked himself and commenced to cruise. For twenty minutes or so he patrolled the hotel room’s perimeter with all the stealth and cunning of a trained sniper. I watched his little silhouette crossing and uncrossing the shaft of light beneath the door. Then, suddenly, it stopped.

He’s laying down, I thought, relieved. Sleeping. No doubt waiting for his parents to return through the same door they’d gone out several hours earlier. I slipped from the bed and tiptoed toward the door, preparing to carry him to bed.

But Ezra had not slumped to the floor. He sat straight up, his back to me. In the low light, I could see his arms making odd motions – rubbing his head, his chest and legs, then back to his head.

I noticed the open bottle of hand lotion, its contents pooling between his legs, at the same time he noticed me peering at him from above. Up came two well-slicked hands, ready for a lift. “Baff? Showah?”

That’s better than “GO WAY!” I figured, reaching for the baby-wipes and stifling my chuckles as I picked him up. The bath would have to wait till morning.

Ezra made no protest when I finally lay him in his cot. One short song, a wee backrub, and sleep finally snared him. I looked down at his small body, curled like a cashew around his beloved stuffy, Pepper. A familiar rush of love overwhelmed me – the same love felt by every caring parent and grandparent, even when our offspring’s mischief costs far more than a bottle of lotion. The same love God shows to you and me, in spite of our costly defiance.

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:5