I know that Where the Wild Things Are is a classic of children’s literature, but I only just read it to my boys last night for the first time. You probably remember the story: Max, a young imaginative boy, is making mischief one night and when his mother catches him she calls him “Wild Thing”, to which Max replies, “I’ll eat you up!” His mother then sends him to bed with no dinner and that’s when Max uses his imagination to sail to a distant land where the wild things are. He quickly gains the respect of the monsters there and they make him their king. They have a lot of fun together, but soon Max wants to be “where someone loved him best of all.”
When I can, I try and use the stories I read to my kids as a way to point them to greatest of stories; the true story of God sending his Son to rescue his people from their sins. So, last night after we read the end of the story where Max returns home and finds a hot meal waiting for him in his room, I asked the boys, “Who do you think brought him that food?” To which they replied, “His mommy.” We then proceeded to discuss the reality that Max did not deserve the food that was waiting for him, but that his mommy had mercy on him. I asked them if their mommy ever gave them something good when they didn’t deserve it, to which they answered “yes”. Then I asked them why Mommy showed them mercy. There was no answer, so I explained that Mommy shows them mercy because God showed her mercy when he sent Jesus to die for her sins.
Where the Wild Things Are has unique, eye-catching illustrations and it’s fun for boys to pretend that they are monsters, but I really think the appeal of the story for me is the mercy of a loving mother. Having said that, it would be really easy to just end the story and appreciate the love Max’s mother has for him, and there wouldn’t be anything inherently wrong with that. But if there is One whose mercy far exceeds any mercy we find in this world (and there is), then parents, let us tell them of God who “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5).