Oh, AWANA car races.
If you are an AWANA parent, you’ve probably experienced the joys and agonies of receiving a block of wood and attempting to transform it into a snazzy race car that can beat all the other cars at the highly anticipated, annual “Pinewood Derby Car Race.”
Judah was an AWANA Cubbie this year and thoroughly enjoyed his time learning verses, getting patches for his cute little vest, and eating lots of sugar way past his bedtime. So when it was time for the car race, he wanted to participate, of course.
He took his block of wood and painted it green. Then, he painted both ends purple. He was making a Hulk car. He didn’t want the shape changed. Nope. Just a block of wood that’s green and purple. John tried to convince him to make the block of wood look a little more like a race car and to make it a little faster, but Judah was completely happy with his green and purple Hulk.
Now you need to know that our Judah is a very sensitive young boy who often feels devastated over losing, which is why we were hesitant to let him participate in the car race at all. We thought he would break down crying or be so downcast that it would take days for him to recover. So we prepped him, talked to him, and prayed with him as the “big day” approached.
There it was, the day of the race, and, predictably, Judah’s Hulk car didn’t win; in fact, it didn’t even make it all the way to the end of the race track. Not once. I guess rectangular blocks of wood aren’t the most aerodynamic shapes.
I watched my son nervously as he lost race after race. He was a bit confused, a bit thoughtful, and a bit bored when his car was done racing after the preliminary rounds. Then he went off to play with toys and ask about when it was time for cookies. Later, when he received his red participation ribbon, John and I assured Judah how proud we were of him although he didn’t win.
“Daddy, are you really proud of me?” Judah asked his father timidly, almost scared, as John was strapping him into his car seat to head home.
If John could get a medal for Teachable-Daddy-Moment-of-the-Year, he definitely would be a winner with this one.
With tears in his eyes, John reassured Judah how very proud he was of him. Proud for not getting upset about losing. Proud for clapping for the other kids who had faster cars. Proud for doing his best when he painted the car. Proud for honoring God with his heart and his actions. “Yes, Daddy is REALLY proud of you.”
Judah’s question is something I want to ask God sometimes, not believing that He could be proud of me when I’m that slow car that doesn’t even make it to the finish line. The awkward block of wood that needs a lot of shaping and carving just to drive down the track well. The last one. The one that definitely looks like a child made it.
Can I really believe that we serve a Father who truly is proud of his children when they give their best and honor him in their hearts and actions? A Father who looks down with tears in his eyes, reassuring us, “I am proud of you. I delight in you.”
Yes, I can believe that. Because God’s love is that perfect. And that is good news to someone like me, who will never be that snazzy race car that has it all together.