My dad was a two balloons kind of dad. The infamous treasure chest in his office was the ‘pot of gold’ for his patients at the end of their dental appointment. Patients would spring from the dental chair, eyes wide and full of excitement, and charge for that beloved toy chest filled with ‘Made in China’ gems. Patients were allowed to pick two prizes---“one for each hand,” was Dr. Camak’s rule. It was really quite fun to watch the eyes of the children light up when they realized they could pick not just one, but TWO items to take home!
In the seven years I worked for him, I observed many things around the office toy treasure chest. It’s no secret that the ‘prize concept’ may or may not be used in the dental world to encourage young patients to accept their dental treatment. It’s a legitimate incentive, and very effective. The promise of a plastic birthstone ring is a powerful motivator! (I can personally attest to this.)
The toy chest sometimes exposed the innate nature in us all—yes the sinful one that exist even in the most darling little ones. Some children inquired about receiving their prizes before their dental treatment while others felt entitled to at least three new prizes. I even witnessed one little thief who worked to fill his pockets with no short of six new toys. Siblings would argue with each other over who got what toy, and so on and so forth…imagine a bunch of little Gollum’s grumbling, “My precious. They stoles it from us!”
But the toy chest was used most effectively by my father. Sometimes a patient, whowould “show out.” And by “show out” I mean be a complete and total holy terror. I should also clarify that these patients were at an age of understanding—I do not mean the itty bitties! I would say to myself, “that brat does not deserve any prizes. What he needs is a spanking. ” Since I had life all figured out from behind my desk and computer screen…right… About the moment, my daddy would shuffle up to the front, hands still powdery from his gloves to retrieve a “very special prize” for the little tyrant. What?!! Dad, seriously!?!? I would think to myself, those prizes are reserved for the patients who overcame their fears, pushed through, tried hard, and were “good.” You know the ones who “deserved it.”
And he did most always use the toy chest for those purposes, but he, too, used it to bestow GRACE.
He gave to the undeserved.
He showed favor to those without merit.
He granted mercy when punishment was due.
He was a father.
And he loved as a father.
Tim Keller said, “God relentlessly offers His grace to people who do not deserve it, or see it, or even appreciate it after they have been saved by it.” I can only view my earthly father’s actions in moments like that as a beautiful reflection of our Heavenly Father.
"The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love." Psalm 145:8 (NLT)
I am so undeserving. My foot stomping tantrums and entitled heart far exceed those little punks. The great treasure of radical love and grace that is available to us from our Father is nothing short of astounding.
“But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed. For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago…….
…….The Great Preacher of peace and love came for you, and His voice found those of you who were near and those who were far away. By Him both have access to the Father in one Spirit. And so you are no longer called outcasts and wanderers but citizens with God’s people, members of God’s holy family, and residents of His household. You are being built on a solid foundation: the message of the prophets and the voices of God’s chosen emissaries with Jesus, the Anointed Himself, the precious cornerstone. The building is joined together stone by stone—all of us chosen and sealed in Him, rising up to become a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you are being built together, creating a sacred dwelling place among you where God can live in the Spirit.” (from Ephesians 2)
And you know one more thing about that ‘grace’ that my father would lavish on the most “undeserving”? It established a trust and bond between my dad and the patient and often produce a new desire within the patient for obedience in future dental care. Yep, Amazing, “toy chest” grace! Oh my goodness, may God’s grace and mercy on my life produce and encourage future trust, affection, love and obedience to my God. I pray it does for you, too, sweet readers and friends! And may your circumstances today not prohibit a glorious celebration in the assurance of the Almighty King in Heaven, who inclines Himself to us and welcomes us to call him, “Father.”