She came up behind me, hugged my legs and said, "Eeee-yoouuuuu!" My heart melted. My eyes welled up with tears. I picked her up and swung her around and said, "I LOVE YOU, TOO!" Kissing her all over her sweet little face. Yes. This is why we have children. This is worth the temper-tantrums. This is worth the sleep-less nights and the nasty diapers and the embarrassment when they publicly announce their impending bodily function of the moment. I love you. It is all we need. No, strike that. We don't need it. We want it. Having someone tell us they love us is not in the food-clothing-shelter department. But, we do want it so badly that it feels like a need at times.
Today...today it struck me that it is this very reason that any of us are even here. God wants us. He doesn't need us. What good are we to Him? We're like little peons down here dorking up the place. He created us solely for His pleasure...the pleasure of being loved. And, He knew that it had to be our choice for it to be real.
For months we have been teaching Anna all kinds of words, phrases, and concepts. We've taught her the proper responses:
"What do you say?"
"Here ya go...what do you say?"
"I love you!"
But, when she came to me, when she told me first, "Eeee-yoouuuuu!" she was telling me it was real. I didn't make her. She wasn't offered a treat for doing so, although I'm sure she knew her love for me would be returned.
God created us to love Him, but loved us so much, that He wanted our love to be born out of free choice. Thus, the opportunity for rejection. Thus, the opportunity for messing up. Thus, sin. And because we are human, because we are not holy, we do in fact, sin. We screw up. And, we screw up bad. So bad, that our badness can't even be near His goodness. It just can't happen. His wonderfulness cannot even be grasped by us fully. Never will. I think, even when we get to Heaven, we still won't even know the half of it. Imagine the warmest, fullest, your heart has ever been - magnify that times a million and we still have no idea "How great is the love the Father has lavished on US!" (1 John 3:1)
So, He gave us free will and we failed...we failed majorly. But, He still loves us soooo much. In the Old Testament, He gave us atonement through sacrifice. We kind of got the hang of it, all those rules and crazy laws that maybe, just maybe would clean us off good enough to be in His presence one day. But, our hearts lost sight of the One who wanted us. So, He made the ultimate sacrifice so that ALL of us may come. Whosoever will.
I love Jesus with all of my heart. I know Him. I have seen His works. I have experienced His amazing forgiveness. I have lived on His love. He is it. The ONLY way. Yes. I know to some, that makes me narrow-minded. That's because the Way is narrow (Luke 13):
22Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, 24"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.'
"But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'
26"Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.'
27"But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'
28"There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."
You do not have to buy into this love. You don't have to take it. Because, you see, God loves you so much - that He is not going to make you love Him. He wants you to want Him. And, trust me, He is worth it. Jesus came to earth, gave us the plan, and then executed it...endured the savage wrath of satan's desire to thwart that plan. He was sacrificed for us, just like the lambs and goats and doves and other animals of the Old Testament...only He is the Son...of...God! Hallelujah! The perfect sacrifice that was more than enough to take care of the entire debt of the entire human race. We only have to believe, accept, and love Him back.
He conquered death! He was killed. Mutilated. Beaten. And, buried. And, while the world celebrated Passover, He paid the price for our sins. Yours. Yes. You know that thing in your heart you just can't get over? It's done. It's gone. Give it to Him. Because on the third day? He rose! He got up from that evil death and rose from that grave and ran to us! And, He is there waiting for us to run to Him everyday. To take that thing in your heart and clean you off and make you completely new again. As if it never happened. He will make you whole. God is the Only One who can. He loves you. Once you know Him, once you accept Him and become a believer...you will truly understand how His love is not like any of our relationships here on earth. His love is perfect.
I love you very much. I love you so much, that I wanted to tell you these things. I want you to know the amazing love that I know. And, if you want to know more, ask me. I am always ready to tell anyone where my hope and joy come from...
Jesus. And, HE IS RISEN! Happy Easter!