“How deep the Father’s love for us?” – By Pastor Kelsey Henderson
This song has been stuck in my head for weeks. It shows up in unexpected at random moments as time passes; walking down my stairs, walking up the stairs, sipping my morning coffee, sipping my afternoon coffee, wrestling kids to get dressed, wrestling kids to get undressed, when reading and when writing.
As I reflect on the last couple of months of “shelter in place”, I see myself making “swift” transitions. I went from working in my quiet office to shoving crafts and toys aside to create a semi-functional workspace in a much less inaudible environment. I suddenly became my daughter’s teacher and was quite thrilled with my own 1st-grade academic skills. I began my first graduate-level course which I found to be both relevant and intriguing. In retrospect, I was doing swell.
Or so I thought…
About 2 days after the “shelter in place” order came into fruition, I had developed a nervous itch. The itching progressed over the months. I began to have welts from itching so much! Finally, after several weeks of discomfort, I consulted my doctor. With no sign of a rash, hives, or serious medical condition, he asked me, “So how are you managing the stress?” I responded with an awkward chuckle as I normally do when someone taps into my discombobulated mental space. After further conversation, it seemed that I had not even acknowledged the impact that the pandemic has had on me whatsoever; like I hadn’t given myself permission to have feelings or opinions about my current circumstances. I had buried the burden within and wore it with a smile. Thus, activating a nervous itch throughout my body.
However, facades don’t last forever, do they? A few days later I had hit my capacity of being in the casserole of life. The swirl of all demands at once and the resistance of a 4-year-old boy that hasn’t been able to run off his energy outside because “mom is swamped” had come to a threshold. My son had set out to “fix” things around the house. As a result, he broke multiple toys from “hammering” and made so much noise in the process.
I was done!
My son ran away from me yelling “leave me alone”. There it was. All of my ugly stuffed anger on display. Now some people snap and move on. That is not the case for me. My response weighed heavily on me. I found myself shedding small, weepy tears throughout the remainder of the day.
I blew it!
I ask God, “How deep is Your love for me, right now?”
Later that evening I asked my husband to take all of us to Target. The kids and I needed to go somewhere. Anywhere. I needed a storage tote to finish organizing the kid’s playroom; because that’s what I do when things get chaotic. I try to make sense of things by bringing order to them. We purchased the tote and when placing it in the car my husband pointed out that the tote was cracked and broken. Shock waves from the first snap went into full throttle.
I blew it again!
I probed God again, “Just How deep is that love of yours really…right now… in this very moment?”
“Honey, it’s just a tub. We can get another one” my husband tried to console me. Only it wasn’t about the tub. It was what the tub represented; loss of control. It was the one part of the day I had just a tiny itsy-bitsy amount of control over… and it disappointed me.
When we returned home, though still frazzled on the inside, I knelt beside my son. I asked him, as I always do, “How much do I love you?” To which, he would normally respond, “Too much” and then I would add, “Way too much”. Only this time he looked away from me and gestured a teeny, tiny, little inch with his fingers. My heart broke. I made eye contact and said, “go bigger son”. His little fingers expanded the gap a little more. I continued, “go bigger”. Now he added his other hand to expand the gap. “Bigger son, way, way, bigger son!”. When his little arms wouldn’t stretch any further I pulled him in for a colossal hug, smooching his yummy cheeks, and whispered, “Now don’t you forget it. I love you way too much”.
As I employed my own inner voice of shame while wallowing in my human failures, I heard God speak. “Kelsey, how much do I love you?”. I responded to Him with that tiny gesture, the teeny, tiny inch between my fingers. To which He challenged me, “bigger daughter. Go bigger!”. I introduced my other hand and opened the gap. Even so, He exclaimed, “BIGGER KELSEY! BIGGER! GO WAY TOO BIG!”.
You see friends, I have been holding my fingers an inch apart for so long that I have restricted myself from experiencing the depths of God’s love for me. My Journey small group likes to end our time together by voicing the grace we need. Today, I asked for the grace to acknowledge that this “new normal” is actually really hard. The Father is not at all surprised or condemning of my human response to disappointment, worry, fatigue, and loss. In fact, it is in those places He wants to drench me in His BIG LOVE for me. That’s the God we serve. So “How deep is the Father’s love for us?”. WAY TOO DEEP!
So, if you find yourself racking up a list of all your flaws and failures, I challenge you! Hold up those hands. Ask Him. He’ll tell you. Then bask in the endless waves of His deep love as you expand the gap between your arms until you can stretch no further. Bigger. Bigger. Way too Big.