A couple of weeks ago, a friend who was in town on an errand stopped by my house. We stood around and chatted for a bit, and she left me some freshly-picked fruit, while Lydia looked on from her high chair. It was early in the morning and we’d just had breakfast.
Before my friend left, as she was saying goodbye, she walked over to Lydia, bent over, and kissed her on the cheek.
That little act of love toward my daughter shot me right in the heart. And in that moment, I realized something. I kinda know, a little bit, how God feels.
I feel like I first have to clarify that my friend’s affection for my baby girl felt entirely different from what my in-laws or parents show her, since my daughter belongs to them, too. Their affection is natural and expected. But my friend has no special, biological attachments to my daughter. She’s just a friend. Her love, then, came from somewhere different.
There is nothing my friend could have done to show a deeper love for me than to show love to my baby. It went through Lydia and into the deepest part of me.
To love Lydia is to love me.
Now that I have a daughter, perhaps the best way to show love to me is to show love to her. The greatest gift you could possibly give me is affection for my child. Love her and my heart is yours.
Conversely, if you don’t love her, we can never have a very strong relationship. I’m sorry. She’s too close to my heart.
Scripture suggests that it works the same way with God: Jesus tells us that whatever we do “for the least of these,” we do for him (Matt 25:40). Likewise, If we hate any of God’s children, we cannot love God (1 John 4:20).
I get it now.
My child had her beginning inside of me. I felt her first movements as flickers inside of me. She was once a part of my body, and now she walks (well, crawls) around with a piece of my soul inside of her. We share our days and our nights. We sleep with our hearts pressed against each other; she drinks milk from my body and my soul feasts on the sound of her voice as she sucks and hums herself to sleep.
Any harm that comes to her brings me pain. Any joy that comes to her brings me peace and happiness.
How much more must God love his children, whom he deliberately formed with his own hands? Into whom he breathed his very breath? He was intimately involved in the division of each cell as the zygote became an embryo, and then a fetus . . . he sustained each molecule as they became a heart and lungs and fingernails and eyelashes; he heard the first thoughts and felt each emotion of every human who ever lived.
Jesus demonstrated the intensity of his love when he willingly endured prolonged torture and a slow, humiliating, excruciating death for his children, with the hopes that each one would choose to spend eternity with him.
Anything we do to any one of his children – for good or evil — cuts straight to his heart.
I get that now.