Zechariah is a snuggly and lovable kid when it comes to his momma. He runs to me with excitement when he’s happy; he calls out to me when scared. He cries to me in pain… the heart pain and wounds inflicted by others, and the physical pain when his body is failing or weak. In all of these instances, he runs to me because he belongs. He believes that he’s loved and knows he won’t find rejection in my arms.
I also work with children every day who are just the opposite of Zechariah in many of these ways. Their young little lives have been shattered by traumas and their innocent eyes and hearts tainted by the stains of this world. Though only in their first few years of life, at times the pain within them is so great they forget how to be kids and don’t realize they are loved or belong.
When they feel joy, they try to hide it for fear others will mock. When they’re afraid, they run away instead of into the arms of those who are safe. When they feel pain, the silent tears may fall yet they try to mask it, faking a front of bravery to try and protect themselves from the vulnerability so often abused in the past.
Even so, the same love and compassion I have for my son, though different, is the same. It overflows from my heart for each one of them. Though they run, I keep trying. Though they yell, I keep loving. Though they fight, I keep embracing. They may not be “my” children, but they are children; and they do belong.
God looks down and sees all of these children. The ones who are warm and snuggly, and the ones who pretend to be hardened and cold. Though their outward actions are different, in God’s eyes, they are the same. Children. Loved. Accepted. His. Not just when they are endearing. But also when they are running away, yelling, angry and scared. Especially then. He’s there.
Similarly, we don’t have to be perfect. We just have to be His. And even when we don’t feel like it, act like it, or believe it – that’s who we are.
I’ve been rejected much over this past year and seen children with behaviors so extreme that very few would even try to go near. But I’ve seen those same children over time – after many months, endless prayers and countless tears – begin to transform… once they began believing the truth that they are loved.
What do you believe?
Do you believe you’re just going through the motions of life and no one really cares? Or do you believe God has a purpose for your life – even today, even in your mess – and that you are fiercely loved?
For a moment, imagine your most treasured possession here on earth. Now imagine giving that gift to someone who you know will receive it with joy, take care of it, and treasure it just as much as you do. Now imagine giving that same gift to someone you know who has rejected your love, trampled your heart, abused you or inflicted great pain. Can you imagine it? It’s probably not easy. Yet that’s what Christmas is.
God gave His most treasured possession to those who would, with gratitude, receive; and those who, with resistance, would not.
A babe. Given to us, so that we too could become children. Children who, regardless of how we’ve behaved in the past, can today be transformed by God’s love. But we have to receive it. And to receive it, we have to believe.
We have to believe we are worth it. We have to believe we are accepted. And we have to believe we are loved. Just like Zechariah. Just like the small children I work with who fight to believe it every day, but eventually embrace it and are transformed. It’s a truth that rings clearer than any Christmas bells that will chime, and louder than any sleigh bells that will ring. May you hear it, embrace it, and be transformed as you do. Merry Christmas with love. You are accepted. You are loved. And you are indeed His.