In a few months, my daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Steve, are expecting their first child. To say that we are all excited about this little one's arrival is an understatement. I can't wait to meet Skippy. Yep, you heard right: Skippy! Okay, maybe that is not the name that they have chosen for their daughter. However, it is the one that I have selected. Back when they were searching for a name, I called Kathy and told them that I had come up with one. It dawned on me as I was eating my toast and peanut butter at breakfast: Skippy! All I heard was an all too familiar groan on the other end of the line. I have been informed that as well thought out as my recommendation was, it would not be the baby's name.
I love Skippy. Even before she is born, before she has accomplished the inevitable achievements that her rich family heritage guarantees, before the Nobel Prize and the Rhodes Scholarship, I love her. Okay, admittedly, Skippy is most likely a fitting name because she comes from a bunch of nuts! Truth is, in our family, she will be our pride and joy if she can bait her own hook and catch a limit of Walleye. We might as well be honest: Skippy is up against it. She is being born into a world that has gone mad. Evil abounds. She is being born into the lives of people who feel keenly their weaknesses. Her parents live in Toronto. (Don't take offense dear Toronto friends. It's just hard to teach a kid to catch Walleye in Don Mills.) Whether you feel the debate on a child's development is more nature than nurture, or nurture than nature, Skippy has some hurdles ahead.
Did I tell you that I love Skippy?! I say this because I believe that the familial love that develops for a child during the forty weeks of pregnancy really does provide an important living metaphor for the incredible reality of God's love for His people. God's love for us precedes anything that we have ever done. In fact, the marvel of God's love is that God has loved us when He was fully aware of everything that would go wrong with humanity and how each of us would be a willing contributor to the sin and corruption that has long plagued our race. The hope of humanity is not in its ability to earn the love of God. It is in the fact that God is love and His love flows from His nature and His heart. His love is so great that it doesn't simply turn a grandfatherly blind eye to our obvious faults and flaws. He looks straight at our selfish choices, sinful acts, and hateful behaviours, and determines to deal justly with our guilt and yet, mercifully with our souls. This is no weak love filled with self-serving ambition. He doesn't love me so that He can feel better about Himself. He loves me because that is who He is.
This, then, of course, is my hope. My hope is that if God loves me in spite of a thousand reasons why I am unlovable and if He freely chooses to do whatever it takes to save me from myself, from sin, and ultimately from the evil of the world, then the question is not: "What am I up against?" The question is this: "If God is for me, who or what can be against me?"
Do you know what God has nick-named me? He has called me "Beloved". That's a bit more profound than "Skippy". In 1 John 3:1 the apostle John expresses the wonder of God's love for us: "See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called the children of God; and so we are!" Then, in the fourth chapter, John repeatedly calls his audience "Beloved". It is clear that he calls them this not simply because as an apostle, he cares about them. He calls us "Beloved" because God Himself has loved us with an incredibly forgiving and unfailing love. Listen to John's words: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God is manifested among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." God's love is not due to our worthiness but a tribute to His. Linger over that miracle for awhile today, "Beloved". God loves us truly, deeply, and forever!
I love Skippy. I can't wait to meet her. I am not worried about all the "jams" that she might get into (sorry, I couldn't resist that one!). My hope is in a Love that is greater than all our sins and struggles. There is a God who has loved Skippy's grandparents and parents long before they were born and gave His Son to save them. My prayer for her is that she might come to know and to trust this love early and for always. I am praying for her physical birth with excitement. I am praying for spiritual "birth" with even more passion. What a joy for her to wake up one day and hear with the ears of faith, the nickname her heavenly Father has given her: "Beloved." I want her to hear in her heart from the eternal God: "I love you, Skippy! I always have!" Please pray for her with me.