(Another episode in our grandson Jackson's ongoing capacity to say and do things that both entertain and illuminate. Jackson's 4 now, by the way.)
Jackson and his sister Emma (a character in her own right) spent the night with us this past weekend. As they were leaving, I walked out to the car to say goodbye. Frances had already done so in the house, and didn't walk out with us. As I leaned over to give Jack a goodbye kiss, he looked at me and said, "Tell Grannie Frannie she loves us!"
Jackson immediately knew he had crossed up his words. He had meant to say, "Tell Grannie Frannie we love her!" His face immediately broke into a smile, and I also found it really funny. "I'll tell her, Jackson," I responded, laughing, "I'll tell Grannie Frannie that she loves you!"
As has been the case with Jackson on other occasions, his comment was fraught with a wonderful spiritual implication. Indeed, in our relationship with God, it is a fine and Biblical thing to often affirm to Him, "Heavenly Father, You love us!"
"We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).
Our love for God is eternally the response of our hearts to His heart. First, He loved us by creating and sustaining our being, providing for us before we even knew Him (Acts 17:25). Then He loved us by convicting and convincing us that the Lord Jesus Christ is a Savior, and a Savior we need because of our sins (John 12:32). When we believed, He poured out His love into our hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Finally, He continues to work in us to motivate and enable reciprocal response to the continual overtures of lovingkindness that proceed from His devotion to us (Philippians 2:13).
Born again believers live far more from God than for God. The Lord Jesus is "before all things," including and especially the fruit of the Spirit produced in us by God's ongoing cultivating of spiritual maturity (Colossians 1:17). The dynamic of "we love Him because He first loved us" must form and inform our understanding not only of birth into relationship with God, but also growth into resembling Him in character, disposition and way.
If it were possible to quantify godliness, and if we could somehow find the most godly believer presently living in the world, we might raise the question, "What does it feel like to love God so much?" The instantaneous response would surely involve a recoiling from the notion. "Oh, I've barely even begun to love Him!" the devout one would reply in genuine sincerity. "But I am more and more overwhelmed by the wonder of how much He loves me, how much He loves you, and how much He loves all!" Yes, the focus of true godliness sees clearly the fount of all love - "God is love" - and the fact that in both time and eternity those who truly love Him are enraptured and fixed on their Lord's devotion rather than their own (I John 4:16).
Frances' response to "Tell Grannie Frannie that she loves us!" was every bit as joyful as you might expect. Doubtless the same rejoicing will fill our Heavenly Father's heart as we affirm to Him and each other the wonder of His love that "passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). We may tell Him that He loves us with confidence that we are faithfully expressing the Word, the reality of His heart, and the truth whereby genuine love for Him fills and fulfills us.
"And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God."
(II Thessalonians 3:5)