Through the grass and up the sidewalk he came, running and screaming with all his might. When he had finally stopped by the side of the stroller, he exclaimed, “Mommy! Look what I brought you!” In his tiny, outstretched hand, he held tightly to his special find.
Assuming he had picked another dandelion but refusing to squelch the unveiling of his treasure, I returned his excitement and said, “What!? What did you bring me!?”
With unabashed eagerness, he thrust his gift into my hand. With a smile a mile wide and bright, blue eyes, he waited patiently for my delighted response. And if I was a betting woman, I would bet on the following two things:
1. He has probably never spent any of his precious time agonizing, obsessing, or doubting over the gifts he’s given me.
2. It has probably never occurred to him that I would be anything but elated about the gifts he’s given me.
As I looked down at his token of love, I’ll admit that I was a little surprised that he had deviated from his normal gift of yellow. I’ll also confess that when I looked down on this latest expression of affection, I kind of missed the brightness of the dandelion (said hardly anyone ever). Sitting in my hand, was something that looked like a crazy cross between a cattail, a furry caterpillar, and a weed. It certainly wasn’t the most aesthetically appealing gift I’ve ever been given. In fact, I’m pretty sure I thought something along the lines of, “Oh wow! That thing is really ugly.”
And though this mutation we’ll call a “catillareed” will probably never, EVER make my chart of, “The Top 100 Beautiful Things I’ve Viewed with My Eyes,” my heart fluttered and my love swelled. And without a single moment of hesitation, I said, “Oh buddy! I love it!”
He then followed up quickly by adding, “I gave it to you because I love you SO much, Mommy.”
My heart about melted into a puddle of mush; what a charming heart-breaker!
In that moment, it wasn’t about the gift.
No, in that very moment, it was all about the giver of the gift. It was about his heart. It was about his care for me. It was about him thinking of me. For crying out loud, it was about him taking the time to plod through that field of grass to retrieve something for ME (even if it wasn’t all that lovely).
In that moment, it was all about the giver’s love for me.
As we continued on our walk to the park, I started thinking about our little exchange. Though I couldn’t extract the precise words of Mark 12:33 from my memory, the essence of that verse floated in my head the rest of the way to the park.
“And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
What a freeing TRUTH!
Though God is still blessed by the love offerings I bring Him, my focus doesn’t have to be on the GIFT.
I don’t have to feel pressured to bring Him the loveliest gift, or the fanciest gift, or even the biggest gift. In reality, I don’t have to spend time agonizing, obsessing, or even questioning if He is going to like the gifts I bring Him. Why? Well, because Jesus WAS the gift that I could never bring. He was the perfect offering, the spotless gift, and the once-for-all atoning sacrifice, and that gift satisfied God FOREVER AND EVER.
Because Jesus gave Himself on the cross, I don’t have to worry about my gifts measuring up.
The only gift God asks of me is to bring ALL of ME (my broken, messed-up, absolutely imperfect, train-wreck of a soul).
All of my heart. All of my understanding. All of my strength.
The only gift He really desires is for ALL of me to love ALL of Him.
And though I have a long way to go in practicing this Truth, I can comprehend this sweet, freeing concept a little better today. Why? Well, because a little boy loved me with EVERYTHING he had and blessed me with a “catillareed.”