When Joy visits with us, as she did this past Easter weekend, she sleeps with Nana and Poppy. She curls up on Poppy’s arm and the sweetest ritual begins. Pat, pat, pat. Pat, pat, pat. Pat, pat, pat. The pats go back to when my husband started having to sleep with a c-pap which makes it difficult to talk. So just before he drifts off to sleep, he reaches over and gives me three pats. When she started sleeping with us occasionally as a baby, Poppy also gave her a pat, pat, pat. When she asked him about it he told her that he was saying “I love you.” So she patted him back. Then she patted me. And I patted her back. And that is our nighttime/naptime routine. Love pats all around.
It started me thinking about how God expresses His love for us in ways that we may not recognize or understand.
I believe sunrises are one way God says, “I love you,” as He gives us a new day with new mercies (Lam 3:22-23). And sunsets, when He quiets us with His love and sings us to sleep (Zep 3:17). Children remind us that God has lavished His great love on us as His children (1 Jn 3:1), and when your grandchild runs to you and wraps their arms around your neck – well that still falls short of how much God loves you and me.
There are some very personal ways that God has shown me His love: a perfectly-timed song (especially if it mentions Joy). A text from a friend who is far away but senses my heavy spirit. A financial gift when we are struggling. A rainbow in my backyard. A little girl in my lap snuggled under a blanket watching 101 Dalmatians and dripping her ice cream all over us. A word from His Word that resonates in my heart. A forgotten chocolate kiss in the bottom of my purse.
But the greatest expression of God’s love happened on a wooden cross atop a hill. Paul said, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). And John said, “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 Jn 4:10). There is no higher love than that. Just in case you missed it Beloved, God so loved YOU that he gave His Son to save you. This is perfect love (1 Jn 4:18). It’s the only kind of love God knows.