I saw it in a moment.
At the beach, applying sunscreen (again) to my kid who was having the time of his life. Jumping in the waves for literal hours, sand EVERYWHERE. Practically before my hands left his face, he was off again. His back was already to me, and I told him what I tell him probably a million times a day, “I love you!” He was practically in the waves already, but I heard it repeated back – his learned response. “Love you!”
I sat back in my beach chair and watched him, and I felt it hit me. There was so much more wrapped up in my “I love you” than just words. I was paying attention to the thirty freckles that popped up across his face. His tan hands that move constantly as he talks and explains every detail of his stories. His hilarious laugh as the waves totally knocked him out. His raspy voice when he gets tired.
I know he responded to me with as much love as a five-year-old can. “Love you!” is a repeated response that’s just become second nature.
Clear as day, not necessarily with an audible voice, but more of a gut punch, God said, “That’s how I feel about you.” It wasn’t good or bad or right or wrong, necessarily. But I saw myself in my son, too busy having fun to slow down, squeezing every minute out of the day. And when he finally returned back to me to take care of him, he heard the phrase that I say to him all day, every day.
It’s the same thing that God is saying to me all day, every day. In every single moment, He’s answering prayers for me or delaying His answers to care for me better. He’s slowing me down enough to see Him, and to be taken care of. I don’t think He’s upset with me that I throw back a quick, “Love you, too” once in a while – but I know for sure, I’m missing out on His ridiculous love that’s so constant. And I wonder if maybe you are, too.
Because as I watch my son play at the beach, I’m noticing every single beautiful thing about Him that I love. And I’m sorry, it’s cheesy, but you know those rare moments when everything just feels good and you swear your heart’s growing? Like the Grinch? Like this tiny little red cartoon heart is busting out of its box?
That’s how God is constantly trying to show us how He feels. Except He doesn’t just feel it when things feel good. He doesn’t just feel proud of me when I’m happy and doing a good job. He’s paying attention to my small freckles, too. He loves the way I laugh and how I love others. He loves how I feel things really big even though I don’t. He loves my love for words, because He gave that love to me.
And you? He loves every unique piece about you. He’s noticing all of them, as you go about your day. He’s consistently reaching out, with a quiet, “Hey, I love you.”
He loves how intentional you are with your friends. He loves when you apologize to your kids for being impatient. He loves how much you love to read or host parties for the people you love. He loves hearing you sing or watching you paint. He loves when you say yes to the things that are fulfilling. It’s so deep and great and wide, there’s no way we can grasp it.
I hate comparing myself as a parent to how God feels about me. Because God is a perfect Dad, and I am a completely imperfect mom. I am an imperfect everything. But this small moment, I saw myself running away from God to other things, yelling back, “Love you!”
He wants me to have fun and experience life. But if I’m not returning to Him consistently to connect heart to heart, I’ll never really know Him. I want to respond to Him in my daily life – seeing Him weaved in and out of my day, but I want so much more. I want to slow down enough to hear from Him the things He loves about me; because they reflect Him. Each good thing in me is a reflection of my Dad, my Creator. When I slow down enough to be reminded just how loved I am, I see so much more of who He really is.
It’s too big for us, but it’s still there. He’s still there, offering us as much of Himself as we’ll take. My prayer is that we would experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully [Eph. 3:19]. If we aren’t careful, our response to the vast love of God is a rehearsed reply.
God, let our response to you be rooted and sure, but never flippant. I pray we’d never get used to Your love for us. I pray we’d never get so accustomed to Your pursuit of us that we become complacent. I pray you’d help us to seek to be knocked over by You. Overwhelmed, completely washed in Your grace and mercy and patience. To be reminded that You are paying such close attention to the details of our lives. To never take for granted that You are the best dad; waiting for us to run to you with an intentional response to Your outpouring of love for us. Let it never grow old, God.
“How deeply intimate and far-reaching is His love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding – this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!“ [Ephesians 3:18-19]