An Old Man, A Little Boy, and the Sweet Gift of Love

Posted on Feb 14, 2012 in Faith | 69 comments

The setting was my favorite grocery store in Chandler, Arizona, the week after Christmas.  Exact location was the bulk food section.  I admit I may have been “looking for love” in the form of foods I don’t normally consume, but I couldn’t possibly have foreseen the delicious treat God had in store.

His name was Roy.  He seemed to just appear next to me, and we instantly bonded over peanut butter malted milk balls.  He moved very slowly, and his hands were shaky.  I asked if I could help him scoop the little chocolates–SO badly wanting to!–and thankfully he accepted.  This PRECIOUS man–in his 80s or 90s I thought–told me he had recently had knee surgery, and that his doctors wanted him to eat protein.  He thought the protein in the peanut butter malted milk balls would be good for him.  I smiled, although I’m sure I’d already been smiling from the moment I saw him… he was adorable!  I offered I’d had knee surgery, too… that I knew how difficult it was to get around afterwards.  He told me about his life and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I melted like chocolate when he called me “Princess,” thanking me for all my help.  My help?!  Whatever “help” I’d given felt much more like a gift I’d received.  My time with Roy was PURE JOY.  A little slice of heaven.

Please keep Roy in mind as we change focus to a much younger little man named Joey, my fourth child–currently nine years old but three or four at the time.  The place was my kitchen, and the situation was a cherubic face with something brown smeared all over it.  My children had been instructed not to eat some chocolates, so it surprised me when I saw what looked like chocolate all over Joey’s face.  I kneeled down to his level–mustering every bit of self-control I could not to smile at his chocolate-covered cheeks–and looked him straight in the eyes:  “Joey, did you eat some chocolate?” I asked.  “No,” he genuinely replied.  “Sweetheart, it’s very important you tell me the truth.  Did you eat the chocolates?”  “No,” said the most guilt-stained face you’ve ever seen.  I think at this point big brother Danny chimed in with knowledge eradicating any chance of Joey’s innocence.  My little guy had been caught red-handed in his “sin.”  Interestingly, all these years later I don’t recall my choice of discipline, but I clearly remember how PRECIOUS he was and my overflowing love for him.

These two vignettes make me ponder God’s love for us.  Sometimes we’re completely likable, like Roy:  kind, obedient, thankful.  Other times we’re, well, less deserving.  But with love unconditional, God deems us “precious and honored” in His sight (Isaiah 43:4).  No matter our age or “stain,” He takes “great delight” in us–”he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).  How truly awesome to believe we are adored by God… this very moment!

But even more, just as I gently wiped the chocolate off my sweet Joey’s cheeks, it’s only natural our heavenly Father wants to tenderly wash the stains of our sin away, too.  “This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).  The “living water” of Jesus completely cleanses our heart, mind, body, and soul so we may start anew (see John 4:10).  I’ll be the first to say I’m undeserving, but that’s why God’s love is spelled G-R-A-C-E.  Unmerited favor.  An unconditional love that not only forgives and forgets, but also renews us “for noble purposes” (Jeremiah 31:34, 2 Timothy 2:21).  Perhaps you already relish the taste of this love, or maybe you’re about to take your “first bite.”  Either way, God has heavenly bliss in store!

May this Valentine’s Day be extra-special as you experience the sweetness of God’s love in a brand new way!  I pray that in the midst of your unique circumstance, you will “Taste and see that the Lord is good….” (Psalm 34:8).

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