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March 24, 2021

Jesus, the Tooth Fairy

By Jeanne Harrison

My kids are really different. I have a go-getter who will do just about anything for a dollar, from squashing a bug to cleaning up the backseat of our minivan after her little sister puked in it. (Seriously. I would’ve harvested an organ to avoid that mess, and this child braved it for a dollar!)

I also have a child who’s more of a “free spirit.” She’s as fun-loving as her dad and equally undeterred by chaos. Most days her room looks like she’s halfway through a game of Jumanji. 

One afternoon, I found my little free spirit watching TV. “Don’t you want to do chores like your sister to earn money?” I asked. 

She looked out the window, where my go-getter was pushing a battery-operated lawn mower in a thousand degree weather, and shrugged. “Nah, I’m just gonna wait until all my teeth fall out.” 

It still makes me smile. I suppose it’s a viable plan for a first grader, who’s used to losing a tooth every few months. At our house, the Tooth Fairy pays $1 per tooth, which is actually quite the windfall, considering she also pays $1 for vomit cleanup. 

Yes, Jesus is the Giver of all good gifts – whether spouses or children, vacations or promotions (James 1:17). But He is so much more than that. 

To say our children feel entitled to that dollar is an understatement. I know this because there have been times when the Tooth Fairy forgot to show up and oh. my. goodness. The devastation is Oscar-worthy. 

It’s probably been a while since the Tooth Fairy cheated you, but I’d wager you know the feeling. Whether the vending machine eats our dollar or the scale refuses to acknowledge our diet, we know what it’s like to think, “Hey! I deserved that!” It’s the sinking sensation that you’ve been cheated. 

And if we’re honest, sometimes it feels like God’s the One who cheated us:

  • I kept myself pure before marriage, so why didn’t I get the great, godly spouse all my friends seem to have?
  • I devoted my life to serving God, so why aren’t my grown children walking with Him?
  • I manage my business with integrity, so why is it on the brink of bankruptcy?

If we were seven years old, we might say, “I put the stinkin’ tooth under my pillow, so where’s my dollar?!”

Sometimes, the problem is that we’re holding God to a promise He never actually made. Or instead of surrendering to Him, we’re viewing Him as a means to our own end. Other times our struggle is emotional more than theological — we know God’s not Santa, rewarding “nice people” with blessings and “naughty people” with bankrupt business, but at a heart level we feel forgotten by Him. 

And sometimes the problem is that we’ve mistaken a biblical principle for a biblical promise. Take for instance, Psalm 34:12-13: “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” If this was a biblical promise – meaning it’s guaranteed to be true 100% of the time – then any time someone died young, we could assume they were a liar liar pants on fire. Obviously, that’s not true. This, then, is a biblical principle – meaning by and large, if you live with integrity (an honest tongue), you will experience the blessing of integrity (many good and peaceful days on earth). 

Another example of a biblical principle is the oft-quoted Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Do 100% of children who are raised in godly homes remain faithful to God? No. This is a biblical principle, not a promise. 

Failing to recognize the difference is a fast track to discouragement because our tendency is to deconstruct the text in reverse: “My adult child rejected Christianity, therefore I failed to train him biblically.” 

That’s one graceless road we need not travel. Certainly, we should embrace biblical principles. Learn from them; live in accordance with them. But if we cling to them as “guarantees,” we open the door to resentment in our relationship with God. 

Here are some examples of biblical promises we CAN cling to with absolute certainty: If you are a follower of Christ, you have been chosen, adopted, redeemed, and sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3-14). God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20, John 10:28). He will finish the good work He began in you (Philippians 1:6). He will be faithful even when you are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13). He will somehow work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). And one day, He will welcome you into an eternal glory that far outweighs any temporary suffering (2 Corinthians 4:17). 

Yes, Jesus is the Giver of all good gifts – whether spouses or children, vacations or promotions (James 1:17). But He is so much more than that. 

My kids imagine that the Tooth Fairy is some sparkly-winged Giver of Dollar Bills, but do you know who she really is? Of course you do. She’s the mom who stoops down to smell their hair while they’re sleeping. Who kisses them just because she wants to. She’s the one who holds them when they’re scared, who suffers when they suffer, who fights all the hard battles because she doesn’t doubt for a single second that they’re worth fighting for. She doesn’t slip a dollar under their pillow because they deserve it – and certainly not because she wants that nasty little tooth. She does it because she loves them with her whole entire being, and their delight is her delight. 

Jesus is so much more than a Giver of good gifts. He is a Father to the fatherless, a Defender of the defenseless (Psalm 68:5). He is Lover of sinners, Light in the darkness, Life everlasting (John 8:12, 14:6, Romans 5:8).

Jesus IS the gift. 

 

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