I have resorted to bribery.
But before you drop to your knees and call the Prayer Chain, let me explain: I'm trying to win over the heart of a three-year old girl named Sophia.
In February, my oldest son married a wonderful woman and got the gift of an instant family. Of course, I'd been around this little precious bundle of cuteness before then, but I wasn't quite comfortable in launching my all-out campaign for her affection, until I was sure my zealous antics wouldn't frighten her mother away!
Last year when I first got to spend an extended amount of time with Sophia, her mother asked what I wanted to be "called." Grandmother, and Granny just didn't feel like a hand-knit sweater I was ready to wear, so I did the next best thing when you're trying to find a quick answer: I Googled "cool southern grandmother names."
"Sugar" made the top five. Admittedly, my heart melts just a little every time I hear that tiny voice say, "Where's my Sugar?"
The "Sugar Campaign," began the day after the wedding, but I've recently upped my game. When the "Sugar Sack" (a purse filled with goodies, toys, crayons, games and the occasional piece of candy) failed to eek out a hug, I had to resort to a more subtle form of persuasion. Everyday I text a picture of a cute baby animal, delicious food, or even bugs to convey how much I love her. "I love you more than strawberries that are delicious and juicy and ready for whipped cream on top." "Your love makes me feel like a princess in the Kingdom of Hearts." You get the picture (well you didn't get the picture that accompanied the text - but...)
Now, when I see her, she says, "I love you like all those pictures you send me." I'm getting there slowly but surely. One of these days she will be overcome and just run into my arms and give me a great big hug.
Sunday, that thought just overwhelmed me.
The sermon I was listening to was on receiving God's supply for all of life's demands. The Pastor quoted many familiar verses on grace, but then illustrated John 1:15-17 like the waves of the ocean hitting the shoreline.
"Grace upon grace, upon grace..." Wow!
He closed the sermon with the parable of the Prodigal Son. I've heard it preached hundreds of times, but the key point he brought out was the "grace" of the Father.
"When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he RAN out, he EMBRACED him, he KISSED him." Luke 15:20 The Message
"The son, had a rehearsed speech about how sorry and unworthy he was - BUT the actions of the father were done BEFORE he uttered a word!
When you SEE the LOVE, you can't say, "let me earn it!" (God if You will just get me out of this mess, if you will just give me what I think I need - I will.....) The son's motive for coming back was imperfect, but when he SAW the overwhelming love of the father, his heart changed. The hero is the father, not the repentant son.
The older brother needed to change his mind about his father, he felt he needed to work hard and "earn," what he had. In fact he felt because he had worked hard, he deserved it!" ~Pastor Joseph Prince
And that's when I started crying.
The energy and enthusiasm I have for my little granddaughter came flooding in. HOW MUCH MORE is the Father delighting in us? He is constantly creating ways to capture our hearts, thrill us, surprise us with His love, in ways we can understand; in the taste of cold watermelon on a summer day, a furry baby kitten, a butterfly's wings. He is communicating, "I love you so very much!"
If we could but SEE!
We would never negotiate, we would never try and earn what He has already given. My little granddaughter doesn't need to do ONE thing for my love. It's there, waiting for her to SEE.
One of these days, she will SEE, and one of these days
So will we!
With open eyes