Rhyme AND Reason
“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16
I don’t know that I’d call myself an avid reader, but I am an all-the-time reader. It’s not that I devour everything I read but I like to have an edible pile of books in my literary pantry at all times. As a result, I have feasted upon quite a few books over the years and have developed a particular taste for some authors. My all-time favorite is C.S. Lewis, but Max Lucado, Mark Batterson, and John Maxwell make my mouth water, too. And then there is my other favorite, the one who is as essential to a literary pantry as Little Debbie Nutty Bars are to a kitchen pantry: Dr. Seuss. Yes, Theodore Geisel holds a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. What lessons there are to retrieve from such classics as The Butter Battle Book, Sneetches, Yertle the Turtle, and The Lorax! If you don’t believe me, then we need to converse…over a glass of milk and a Nutty Bar.
While I’ve often used Dr. Seuss stories to illustrate Biblical principles, I tend to stay away from his “emergent reader” books. While Hop on Pop is a great phonetic tool, its ability to delve into Biblical truths is, well, a Flop on Top. But, I must say that recently God has used one of Dr. Seuss’s early readers to teach me a couple of lessons. In the book Dr. Seuss’s ABC we find this amazing alliteration…
“Big A, little a, what begins with a? Aunt Annie’s alligator, a…a…a.”
There are two types of truths God exhumed for me in this rhyme: one grammatical and one Biblical. In the grammatical sense, there is the reminder that letters come in two forms; capital and lower case. And then there is the premise that words with the same beginning letter tend to have the same beginning sound. Before I interject the Biblical truths, let me first walk you to the bridge that will lead us there. Recently, I was contemplating the nature, and case size, of sin. As I was talking to God about my sinfulness, I somewhat humorously (I thought) told God that my sin wasn’t a capital letter sin…it was more of a lower case sin, to which my mind quickly recited, ”Big A, little a, what begins with a?”. I started to list all the sins I could think of that began with an “a”. Then, I made up my own little jingle.
“Big A, little a, what begins with a? Anxiousness and apathy; a…a…a.
Big A, little a, what begins with a? Avarice and arrogance; a…a…a.
Big A, little a, what begins with a? Appetites and anarchy; a…a…a.”
That’s when I saw the bridge of truth…and I couldn’t help but step onto it. When thinking of sins, we tend to think of them in terms of upper case and lower case; there are the big, capital letter sins and little, lower case sins. But God looks at them all the same; a sin is a sin. In Romans 3:23, we are reminded that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and in Isaiah 64:6, we read that “we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like a filthy rag.” So, which sins does God hate the most? All of them! He doesn’t separate them or categorize them; they all look the same. And then I realized there was another truth; not only do all sins look alike, but they also sound alike. In the same way that words with the same beginning letter have the same initial sound, so too do all unrighteous acts drum out the same chords of dissonance into God’s ears.
With this new reasoning from God, along with the rhymes from Dr. Seuss, I thought a little bit further, dove a little bit deeper (or maybe just wider, this pool isn’t deep enough for diving) and landed upon this thought. If all our sins look alike and sound alike to God, then let’s demote them all to a lower case status and reserve the capital letters for the words He’s written to cover those sins; let’s give Him the upper case and the upper hand. Once more my mind went back to this rhyming scheme and this time it chanted,
“Big A, big A, what begins with A? Affection and Adoption; A…A…A.
Big A, bigger A, what begins with A? Approval and Assurance; A…A…A.
Big A, biggest A, what begins with A? Acceptance and Admittance; A…A…A.”
And there you have it; two truths from Dr. Seuss’s ABC, made possible of course by the Creator of Rhyme and Reason. Sins look alike and sound alike to God; they should to us as well. If we truly owned this truth, not only would we stop trying to minimize (or maximize) our sin, but we’d also stop inadvertently minimizing God’s grace. Just one of our sins cost Jesus His life; the gift of grace was costly. If we try to make light of our sin, we are also making light of this gift. Let’s enjoy the rhyme and reason of God’s grace.
Big A, little a, what begins with a? A Savior on A Cross…grace, grace, grace!
Worth mentioning: Today, March 2nd, is Dr. Seuss’ birthday and also Read Across America Day (in his honor). In schools all over the United States, Dr. Seuss books will be pulled off the shelf and read aloud while students laugh aloud. I didn’t even realize this while I was writing this piece. In fact, I started to write on another topic, but this one came forth instead. Funny how God intervenes, even in the littlest of things!