Bear originally arrived at our house as a gift for my first grandson. A heaping helping of pure love and joy. First, he perched on the couch in my upstairs grandma nursery. Then, beside the railed youth bed in the same room. At last, atop the racecar bed where my now-twelve-year-old grandson still squeezes in to sleep on his overnights. (By his own choice.)
Like the well-loved bunny of The Velveteen Rabbit, Bear has endured plopping and punching, tugging and lugging, somersaulting down the stairs and being left forlornly in a heap when attention moved on to something else. Today, he still stands watch through the night and offers the first greeting when eyes open in the morning light.
During a recent three-day frolic with both my grandsons, eleven years apart, Bear made his first appearance to Baby D. I carried Bear down from his "room" and hid behind his enormous fluffiness while "fake speaking" for Bear to my toddler grandboy. Baby D's response? Awe, followed by curiosity that nudged a daring exploration and culminated in JOY JOY JOY!
I snapped a photo of the moment and mused over his serene smile. Baby D has no idea of Bear's inability to truly love him. Innocently, simply and utterly naturally, Baby D felt love from Bear and so returned it multi-fold. Such capacity to embrace!
Zooming in on Baby D's face, I marveled. It's an amazing thing to believe you are loved. Purely, unabashedly, completely and unconditionally. And it's a stunning experience to return love to another. Purely, unabashedly, completely and unconditionally.
That's what God does for us in Jesus. He convinces us that we are loved. Purely, unabashedly, completely and unconditionally. He endures our plopping and punching, tugging and lugging ... and our leaving him forlornly when our attention moves on to something else. He stands watch through the night and offers the first greeting when our eyes open in the morning light.
God loves. Not in the stuff and such of a fluffy pretend animal but rather, with the outstretched arms of a real human body encasing a breaking beating heart. He loves. Purely. Unabashedly. Completely. Unconditionally.
And when we believe - really believe - we are loved, we love back. Multi-fold.
I see the contented smile of my grandson, head on the heart of Bear. I feel my faithful Father drawing me to the beating heart of his Son.
Elisa Morgan is an author and speaker and the cohost of Discover the Word. She cherishes her role as Yia Yia to two grandsons. Her books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, on Facebook and elisamorganauthor on Instagram.