My 6-year-old son will often spontaneously tell me how much he loves me. It’s one of my favorite things about being a mom. There is this free exchange of affection, unburdened by fear or competitiveness or underlying resentments. The love between parent and child is so beautiful it is in a league of it’s own.
Hudson was playing as we were all doing our weekly zoning out ritual on Sunday morning. He all of a sudden lit up with a bright wide smile and said, “Mom, you’re the sweetest mom ever. I love you more than space.” Hmmm. That’s a new one. I’ve never been compared to space before. He bounced back a minute later and went on. “Mom, I love you more than all the spaces in the world, like all the universes and galaxies, like infinity times infinity times infinity. That’s how much I love you.” Agh. Now I get it. What can I say in response to such poetic sentiments? I couldn’t possibly match that.
I breathed in the goodness of that moment and went back to reading. It’s funny. Right before Hudson began singing my praises I was literally just thinking, ‘How do I express my love and praise to God? It feels contrived rather than genuine so much of the time.’ And it hit me. My son just showed me how. I kind of shyly closed my eyes and prayed, “God, you’re the sweetest Dad ever. I love you more than space.”
It can be challenging to praise God in the way He is worthy of. We see a similar challenge in a human relationship we find sacred and special. Through the years, the words of love almost sound emptier rather than fuller somehow. Anything that gets repeated over and over and over is at great risk of losing it’s meaning. We struggle with words as well as without words. The words seem stale but our hearts don’t know how to get the feeling out without putting words on them. So we do this kind of lame in between where we scatter some affectionate expressions here and there, hoping it’s enough.
The astounding gift we receive, as parents, are not the words our kids say. It’s the purity and devotion and strength behind the words. As I took in the gold of love from my son, and felt the heavy weight of it, I wondered how I can live in that child-like state of devotion to God that I see in Hudson. God doesn’t need us, so what’s in it for Him when it comes to our lives? I obviously can’t speak for God, but it seems to be clear from the scriptures that He finds great delight in the giving of our hearts – pure and simple. Praise that builds from the bottom up, like fiery lava bubbling forth. Not praise that is external, building from the top down.
I’ve been speaking, praying, worshipping, expressing, and singing to God for a solid 2 decades now. I’m in danger of truly having said it all. Today, I wanted to say something new. I long to praise my God in a way that is fresh and real and spring-like. It’s amazing really. God even helps us with our pathetic attempts at loving him. He said, “Look at your son. He’s got the right idea.”
It doesn’t have to be sophisticated.
It just has to be real.
Just as my heart lights up when Hudson brings me a bouquet of dandelions, God’s heart lights up when we do the same. It’s not about the value of what we bring. It’s all rags. It’s that we are even thinking of Him. It’s that, like Hudson, when we find ourselves in a soft grassy field, our inclination is to bring a gift of praise rather than merely keeping to ourselves. As we bounce up to him with our simple offering, smiling wide and bright, I suspect we are closer to hitting the mark of pleasing God than we could imagine in our wildest dreams.