God’s Love at Nap Time

praise and love

The afternoon had advanced well into nap time when I heard the unwelcome sound of feet pattering on the hard-wood floor. It was the second time in 10 minutes that Isaiah had ventured out of bed when he should have been sleeping. He doesn’t understand how I can be so keen to his shenanigans, but within a moment I was at the door, opposite where he had laid down in an attempted blockade.

From the hall, I pushed gently and nudged his 28-pound body out of the way. Nap time infractions can be cause for discipline, but not today. He was not being disobedient so much as restless, so I scooped him up and sat in the rocking chair to relax his busy mind.

In the ensuing minutes, I sang two hymns — “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art,” our current favorites, soft and low. He reclined in my arms and listened. He was still.

After the last stanza, I asked him, “Do you like to sing?” He answered, little man that he is, Uh huh. I followed up: “Do you know why we sing?” His eyes found mine in the half-light of his curtained room and I told him, “Because God put the music in our hearts.”

He pondered. A sweet, idle moment passed and I wondered if he understood, if he would respond like usual.

He looked away and then at me again, shaping novel emotions and thoughts into the three best words imaginable.

I love Jesus.

My heart filled at the sweetness of it, the bare honesty and unprompted affection for the Savior who loved my son before I even had the chance — and who loved me enough to send this gem of a boy to be mine.

I thought of the reasons I love Jesus. Romans 8:1 came immediately to mind: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” No condemnation. I love Him for that. By His stripes I am healed. I love Him for that.

And there was James 1: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”

But Isaiah didn’t know enough yet to love Jesus for those reasons. If I told him a thing about sanctification or redemption or the Spirit of adoption, he would almost certainly ask what is sanctification? (At least, he would try to tackle those five syllables.) He was a blank slate, where doctrine was concerned.

And that is how I knew that my toddler’s spontaneous expression of love cascaded not from a sense of his sinful condition and the Savior’s work, nor the reality of God’s blessings in his life, but from what little he grasped about the person of Christ. To his unclouded 2-year-old mind, Jesus was lovely because “little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong.”

How easily we forget that there is more to love about Jesus Christ than salvation. It is the primary thing, the urgent thing, but not the only thing.

As the door clicked shut behind me, a sleeping boy now in his place, it occurred to me that I had been in a rut — if I had said I loved Jesus any time recently, in my heart I was dwelling on what He had done for me, rather than who He was. My thoughts of Him had become weak and pale where Isaiah’s — though novice — were vivid and sincere.

That little sinner in my arms had no idea what Jesus has actually done for him. But he held a fledgling view of who He is, and from that rough-edged picture, he could honestly declare his love. So he did.

“You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding,” Jesus once prayed, “and revealed them to little children.”

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“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”   {Ephesians 5:1-2}
“We love because He first loved us.”   {1 John 4:19}
“The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”
{Psalms 103:6-19}