Lessons in Love
Mon, Dec 22, 2014 12:34 PM

It was a normal enough day. Elias and I had finished our work for homeschool, and his only remaining assignment was to read a book or a chapter from a bigger book. Jonathan had just gotten home, so Elias asked if he could read a chapter from the Jesus Storybook Bible with Daddy, snuggled up together upstairs. I gleefully agreed, since homeschooling my oldest son three days a week on top of the other work I do can absolutely melt my brain and trample the few remaining nerves I have as well.

They lumbered upstairs with book in hand while I burrowed into the corner of my sofa under a delightfully furry blanket and began catching up on whatever show I’d missed earlier that week. In those moments it doesn’t matter what show, really. I’m not using my brain for an hour, and that’s what counts. Anyway, about twenty minutes after I decided to turn off my brain, I heard footsteps coming down the stairs accompanied by whimpering and sniffles.

Pause show

I irritably sat up to address whatever drama was about to round the corner to the living room. That’s when Elias came around and walked over to me, eyes dripping with tears and red from wiping them repeatedly. Daddy was right behind him with an expression on his face that was hard to read, a cross between pity and confusion.

“Baby, what happened?” I asked, trying to figure out what body part was hurt or whatever transpired that could have merited this response. I mean, they went upstairs to basically read a bible story! What on earth caused the tears? Daddy decided to prompt the retelling saying, “Mommy, he got upset about a part of the story. We were reading about the snake with Adam and Eve.” I automatically assumed he’d gotten scared of the snake, and I was rustling up my mommy comforter hat when Elias expounded (through tears):

“Mommy, I read about the snake and how we’ll trample him under our feet. I know what that means. It’s talking about the devil, and it means that he’s going to be destroyed. But I don’t want anyone destroyed. I want the bad guy to turn good in the end.”

Then, he collapsed in my lap and cried while I held him.

And I. Was. Floored.

Turn off show

Who is this kid? And what kind of heart does he possess that he should weep for the enemy because destruction isn’t the end for which he hopes?

Oh. Yeah. The heart of God, that’s what kind of heart he possesses.

My, what conviction I felt at my core in that moment. I was seeing the heart of God in the cries of my six-year-old, and it ruined me. It was a holy moment—a moment I felt surge through my body—this divine glimpse into God’s magnificent love. Elias wants none to perish, but that’s not the first time I’ve heard something like that. How about you? No, I bet you’ve read it a hundred times like I have (it’s 2 Peter 3:9, in case you’d like to check it out).

How disarming is a love that serves as a foundation for all else? In that moment with my son, I felt no need to discuss theology and tell him why he shouldn’t weep for the serpent because WHY SHOULDN’T WE ALL? What kind of display would that be, those of us who are bought by Love, standing on love, dishing out love, and disarming all the arguments with love? Maybe Jesus was right after all. Maybe the greatest in the trio (faith/hope/love) really is love.

I am so thankful for that lesson in love, taught to me by the tenderness of a Savior displayed through a six-year-old. I pray that our holiday season is marked by love that reflects our Savior, the one who came to us so that none should perish. May we love without measure, across party lines, amidst tumultuous circumstances, and right alongside our disagreements. I pray that we don’t let our biases and our thirst for justice cloud out the disarming beauty of love, because when we really begin to plumb the depths of the stuff we’re swimming in, the extraordinary and absurd love of Jesus, we realize it’s bigger than our biases and our systems. It surpasses our reasoning and our knowledge.

Let’s challenge ourselves to share love this season, even when we don’t want to. Even when we don’t think it’s deserved. Last time I checked, none of us really deserves love. And yet, Love came to us. Lived with us. Died for us. We are loved so that we can be full to overflowing with it. And I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see what the world might look like if we started living with that as our foundation.

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17–19