He held up the game from the cupboard to show me. An old Mastermind game I used to school Matt at while we laid in bed on winter evenings a few years back. “Look, Mommy!” he said, pointing to the top of the game, excitement and surprise on his face. “Look what it says!” I read the word to myself, Mastermind.
“Yes, Jacob. I see. That’s a game Mommy and Daddy used to play.”
“But Mommy! LOOK! Look at what it says!” His big brown eyes were open even wider, eyebrows raised. A broad smile pushed his chubby cheeks up, revealing his beautifully straight teeth. His expression was one of delightful surprise. Oh, how I love the perfectly expressive faces that boy makes.
“What’s it say, Bud?” From where I stood, I could see it. But I didn’t think he knew what it said.
“It says, ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ See?” He pointed to the game name and cocked his head towards me with a pleased look. Then he put the game away and continued playing with the cars he had previously lined up for an important meeting.
I sat there, contemplating our brief conversation. Sweet boy, I thought. My sweet boy, always stopping to pray when someone says they don’t feel well, or anytime I say, “Ouch!” Always remembering to pray for our pastor, his family, and anyone we’ve encountered that day, and reminding us to do the same. Reminding me now that Jesus loves me by pretending he read those words on the top of a silly game. …And yet he looked so convinced that’s what they said. Like he wasn’t pretending at all.
Conversation now tucked away in my mind somewhere, all but forgotten, I continued with my own task of folding the mound of laundry while watching the kids work on puzzles and host car meetings.
It wasn’t until the next day when I thought of that conversation again. The sun streamed through the blinds and landed on the same spot the kids had been playing the day before. This time, he sat stacking blocks. I said something to him – although I don’t remember what – causing him to look up my direction.
I was greeted with another look of surprise. “Mommy! Look! I never saw dat before!” He hopped up and ran to the piano, a huge grin spreading across his face.
“What’s that, Buddy?” I tried to see what he was pointing to. All I saw was the piano.
“Wight dere, Mommy! Look! Look what it says!” He pointed just above Middle C, at the word across the front of the blonde spinet, Kimball. “Mommy! I can’t believe I never saw it before! It says, ‘Jesus loves me!’ Do you see it?”
I smiled. “I see it, Buddy. I see it. You’re right, Jacob. Jesus loves you. Very much.”
Pleased with his new discovery, he headed back to his tower of blocks mumbling to himself with a smile, “I can’t believe I never saw dat before. It’s wight dere.”
And it got me thinking…
Where am I missing the signs. The signs that are right there all along. The places Jesus is telling me that HE loves ME, but I never stop to notice?
Then last night. The evening of Palm Sunday. The start of Holy Week. He said it again.
We were in his bedroom getting on his PJs. He looked up at the sign that hangs above where his crib used to be. “The Prince Sleeps Here.” And on his wall, J-A-C-O-B. “Mommy! See dat? It says it everywhere, Mommy! Jesus Loves Me. Jesus Loves Me. It’s everywhere!” He said it twice, first pointing to the letters of his own name, then to the oval sign.
I stood there, lost in thought as the kids argued about what the sign said. In the distance – although she was right next to me – I could hear Annalise’s voice, “No, Jacob. That says your name. Your name is spelled J-A-C-O-B. It does not say Jesus Loves Me... NO it DOESN’T… NO! NO, Jacob, it DOESN’T… Mah-aaaahhhhhmm! Tell Jacob what it says! He doesn’t believe me!” I could hear it. And I saw Jacob insisting that Yes, that is exactly what it says. But I was focused on something else.
What he had said just before the argument broke out. It was just a sentence or two…
“It says it everywhere, Mommy! Jesus Loves Me. It’s everywhere!”
I was lost in thought again. Am I missing the signs? Do I see it everywhere? My too-wise-two-year-old sees it. Every word he sees reminds him – reminds me – of the love of Jesus.
Today was a family day. Beautiful sunshine, spring warmth. Jacob got to plan our day. We spent it at the park. Along the water. On a trail walk. Together. I loved every minute. And when we got home, we headed back out for a bike ride, wanting to soak up every last bit of warm sun.
But first, on the porch, something caught my eye. I called my boy over and knelt down next to him. “Look, Bud! Look right there! Do you know what that says?”
Jacob looked at where I pointed, to the Easter garden we planted a few weeks back. The cross we made from the sticks we gathered and the tomb from a little peat pot. There was a sign, too, with a verse, but that isn’t where I pointed. I touched the cross and the tomb and looked in my boy’s big brown eyes. “Do you know what that says, Jacob?”
He looked puzzled at first, there were no words to read.
But then he smiled his big broad smile, and he looked up at me proudly. “Yep! I know what it says. It says, Jesus Loves ME!”
“You’re right, Buddy. That’s exactly what it says.”
On this Holy Week, this week we remember the last days of Jesus The Messiah, will you too remember what he says?
He whispers it all around us. In the blessings poured out. In the thoughtfulness of a neighbor. In the surprise snow on the first day of spring, then in the spring sun peaking through the blinds, landing on one boy with two big brown eyes and a broad smile. It’s just right there, but sometimes it’s so easy to miss.
A million daily whispers.
And he shouts it from the past. In a life lived divine. In a sacrifice so great. On a cross and in an empty tomb. He says to you still today, “I love YOU.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” ~ Psalm 86:15