Like you - I have a friend or two who's expecting. Last year - I watched some other friends plan and prepare to bring a baby home. It felt good to watch these bundles of joy come into homes that were prepared not only with diapers and bassinets - but conversation upon conversation of love.
Remember when we were little kids - and we'd play pretend? Pretend was literally my favorite game. Playing house, playing office, playing pioneers .... I LOVED it! Want to play pretend with me today? Of course you do! Pretend is awesome! Okay - so let's pretend - that a' la fairytale magic - in the next week - you will receive a baby to love and care for - to be delivered on your door-step - in typical fairytale fashion - in a basket - complete with fairytale note ... "Please take care of my baby"
So - what are you going to do?
Take care? Take CARE?!! Forget taking care - I'm going love that little baby to the best of my ability. I'm going to clean house - and put away anything that might harm the baby. I'm also going make a space where the baby can sleep quietly and undisturbed, I'm going to go get some diapers, and baby-formula, and such. And I'm going to do all of that cleaning, arranging and shopping while talking to on the phone to the most experienced moms I personally know - because I am going to do right by this baby. And as I do all this - I'm going to feel more and more excited. And I'm going to get into the habit of checking to see if the baby has arrived.
Back to the real babies and kids in our lives - don't we just love it when as these babies grow they can some day say "I like coming to your house!" "I like playing with you!" I'm sitting here right now grinning as I write this - remembering times exactly that has happened. There's just something about kids' love that does in fact seem magical. We LOOOOOOOVVVVE it when a little one excited runs up to us to show us their creation, or their new toy ... or when show us what they can do - jump so high, dance, twist or especially when they throw their little arms around our necks. It's no less awesome at all when they grow older and older and grow into adults right before our eyes - and keep right on sharing their lives with us. And there are few sweeter things than hearing that grown child say "I remember how much you loved me."
And how our heart aches when we hear of babies not being welcomed home with joy and anticipation - for whatever reason, and our hearts ache when we talk to kids who don't have memories of loving adults to share all the things they're learning with. We know that the kids with love have a huge advantage. Kids with an abundance of love - even if they don't have an abundance of other things - still have an advantage over those with abundance of everything but love.
You know what? Me too. ME TOO! When I have an abundance of love - I have more of the best thing to have more of. When I have love - I have a little better version of everything else too. More love is more. Less love is not more.
So - let's pretend again.
Let's flip the calendar back to whatever that day in "history" was - before even the existence of time - when God looked at His "calendar" and knew - YOU were about to arrive. YOU were on YOUR way to His house!!
Then God cleaned up the universe, arranged a place for you, made provisions for you. He arranged people for you to hang with - all with a view for you to come to know His own divine love.
He eagerly anticipated your excitement over your first song - your first adventure - your creations went up on His fridge - and He loved, loved LOVED it - when you tossed your arms around His neck, gave Him zerberts and giggled. And He is today still - as touched as you are when you recall with Him shared moments of significance between you.
Actually it is less true to say that "just like us - God loves this love between us and Himself - and far more true to say that because God loves us and the love between Himself and us - we love it too. In other words - however silly my pretend game may be - it is we who are emulating Him when we sincerely love - not the other way around. Of course! Because God loved us first - we have any concept of love at all.
And I don't in any way want to trivialize sin - but rather to say - let us not in our efforts to forsake sin - trivialize Christ's work on the cross - let us not trivialize God's incredible love behind that redemptive work. In fact - I will suggest - that to consider sin - without considering God's incredible love - trivializes both His love and our sin. If His love is only to be savored after I've applied sufficient regret, contrition, remorse ... doesn't this suggest that I somehow have the very power to fix-up myself and my sin - despite Christ's absolutely necessary work on the cross indicating I have no such power to fix-up myself or my sin? And - doesn't this somehow suggest that contrition is the beginning of humility? Confession is good for the soul - but only in so far as it can effectively connect me to God's love. Apart from that love - endless confession and contrition is the beginning of despair. Humility grows best in love. Humility that tries to grow in guilt - turns into humiliation - which looks like arrogance.
If I know you have my back, are for me, and you like me - or even that you love me, I am motivated to do right by you. If I know that you are headed to my house - I vacuum, I clean, I brush the pets, I make delicious food for us to share, I turn on the porch-light to light your way to my door, I carefully select background tunes that create with music the joy and love I feel. This isn't an original brilliance that I invented - this is an imperfect reflection of God's perfect heart towards us - this is how He anticipates us - but much, much more so.
If we would happily accept a hug and a giggle from a little one - why do we think that what He needs from us - is long protracted, lengthy, lawyer-ly, numbered, out-lined, annotated, documented, vetted and confessed endlessly repetitive recitations of all our imperfections - ad nauseum, ad infinitium? He KNOWS. He already knew it all - back when ... you know ... on that day that He started preparing for you. All the things are still there in your life with a view for you to come to know His divine love.
And just like I'd feel crushed, and just like you'd feel crushed if the little one's only cried and cried about how naughty they'd been about ... whatever ... and declare themselves, over and over, unworthy of our love - isn't it crushing to God when we resist recalling this universe-creating, humanity-saving, paradise-preparing love He has for us - sacrificing joy and hope to a weird sense of "contributing" to His salvation with a frosting of guilt?
AND the simple truth is that your arrival has been wholeheartedly and joyfully anticipated since before the very existence of time. During that whole time - God already knew EVERYTHING about you - and at no point along the way (obviously - Hi! You're reading this!) did He change His mind. Nope. He was IN! BOOM! And here you are - after an infinity of preparation - with the goal that you will spend an eternity with Him in loving community. Can you possibly be more "IN!" than God is in with us? God's love right now is available to you - anticipating you with eagerness and every preparation. Aaaaaahhh.