Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Love You Forever

One of my favorite children’s books is Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. In simple and humorous ways, Munsch depicts a mother’s love for her child from the time she first rocks her baby boy until he has become an adult with a daughter of his own. Through every awkward and frustrating stage that the boy goes through – whether flushing things down the toilet as a toddler or making endless messes as a boy or bringing home strange friends as a teenager – the mom simply cannot help sneaking into his room at night to look at him. And every time she does, she sings:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.

I read that book to my own sons again and again, singing the refrain (at times with tears), until they got too old and were no longer interested. I still have my dog-eared copy and thought of it this morning when I read Isaiah’s words;

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)

Munsch’s book still moves me, perhaps because it touches on an ache in my heart that has never abated – that yearning to hold my children close, to encircle them with tender care, protecting, clinging, infusing them with love that stirs in me so strongly at times that I feel as if my heart might break wide open. It is hard for me to imagine that any mother wouldn't feel this way, that there are women who abandon their babies or abuse their young ones, or even withhold affection from children who need it most.

But this is precisely the point of God’s endearment in Isaiah. Though the love of a mother is a powerful force, it is never perfect and in the end cannot compare to the pulsating energy of Agapeo, the infinite love of God. As I pondered this, I began to imagine the Lord of the Universe, the great I AM, the transcendent ‘Other’ who holds the world together by His power -- watching me, wanting to hold me, aching to give expression to the love that fills His being. I find it almost impossible to wrap my mind around this mystery -- that the desire I feel for my kids is akin to a grain of sand on the seashore, when compared to the yearning God has to embrace me, His beloved daughter.

I read Munsch’s book again this morning and for a few moments found myself putting aside my failings from yesterday and my plans for success today. I stopped trying to figure how to be a more devoted Christ-follower; indeed I gave up every effort to be spiritual at all. I stopped everything and instead, let the Lord satisfy His own longing to hold me. And as I sat there in His embrace, I swear I heard Him singing:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.