Tomorrow is our (soon to be) seventeen-year-old’s birthday. For the last week, I’ve been filling a Birthday Box for her each day. The idea came from The Cirkles blog; basically, you shop for a few favorite items and place one in the box each morning until the big day arrives. I chose to include notes as well–one of them being a list of the birthday girl’s accomplishments from this past year.
A few things from her list were …
- Getting a driver’s permit
- Responding to a nudge from the Holy Spirit to pray for a stranger
- Being an excellent older sister to four little people
- Leading a “tribe” of her peers as a “chief” in our church’s youth group
As I was writing this list of accomplishments for our oldest, my mind couldn’t help but wander to the others in our family of seven:
- Robert spoke at our community’s Thanksgiving service
- Holly learned how to cook (finally!)
- Our 6-year-old cheered at a pep rally and is starting to read
- Her 3-year-old sister potty trained and expanded her vocabulary exponentially
- A.J. added crawling, standing up, and climbing on the couch to his repertoire
- Olivia …
A pang of emotion hit my heart as I thought about Olivia. My faith sees her running and leaping, speaking and singing. The past year has found her laying–in bed or propped up on the couch, reclined in her stroller or in her hospital bed at school. Her arms and legs have not moved with any purpose. Her fingers remain closed in a fist. We talk to her as we always have. Where we go, she goes too. But there is little in the expression of her face, except maybe, in response to pain. The world behind her eyes is very much alive, I believe. Still, my little girl’s thoughts are a mystery to me.
What has Olivia done this year?
My trembling heart couldn’t help but ask the question. The answer hurt–too much to think on it for long. Days later, an answer came in those moments just between wakefulness and sleep.
It’s not about what Olivia has done. It is how well she is loved.
Jesus had answered, and His words stole my breath away.
My goal-oriented and task-driven personality often equates value to doing, worth to accomplishment. There is nothing wrong with being a hard worker, having aspirations or setting goals for achievement, but none of these things can garner the one thing that matters most in this life. Love. The love of God.
Success in the things we do can bring short-term satisfaction, but God’s love is the only thing that can truly fill the bottomless well that is the human soul. In the words of my favorite children’s Bible, God’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” is life’s real treasure.
Olivia has that in spades.
So do you and I.
I’ve heard it said that love is an action word; it is something you do. I don’t disagree, but the message my heart needs to hear is this: God’s love is a waterfall. It is something you stand under, face turned upward, arms thrown back in abandon–overwhelmed by the thundering power of it, softened as it pours into every dry crack and crevice, swimming in its inexhaustible supply.
Then, love is a river. Flowing effortlessly out of a heart that has been loved well.
What does Olivia do?
She stands under a waterfall of love poured out by her Father. She rests, carried in the current of the love of her mama and daddy and countless others. And without words or physical action, Olivia shows the love of God to those who have the blessing of knowing her.
Jesus, help me stand under Your waterfall. And let Your love flow out of me like a river.
“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.”–Lamentations 3:22
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.”–Jeremiah 31:3