Because he couldn’t keep anything down, they had to give him an injection of antibiotics. I really, really hate that. It’s one of the most painful shots you can get. And the little guy is only just that: a little guy. As the nurses held down his legs and I held and squeezed his small hands in mine, my heart literally hurt. It’s not a quick in-and-out deal with those shots; they inject that stuff slowly. It felt like it took an eternity, though it was actually more like five or six very long seconds.
Afterwards, I covered him up and he fell asleep on the exam table as we were waiting the standard 20 minutes to make sure he didn’t have an allergic reaction (he didn’t). As I ambled around the tiny exam room, I had to wipe my eyes with the end of my shirtsleeve more than once. I would have given anything to take that shot for him, to take that pain so he wouldn't have to. I’d of taken 100 of those shots if it prevented him from getting that one. I’d die for that kid. My daughter, too. Really. Not a moment of hesitation. My love for them runs to the very core of who I am. It’s inexpressible in words. It actually hurts.
Then, gently, it dawned on me that this is an echo of how desperately God loves me.
I know I’ve written about this before, but moments like these are some of the most profound of my life. Over the last few years, God’s rent my world with images of his love. Like the father rushing to meet his longed-for boy while he was yet a long way down the road. An unbridled child running to a love-brimmed father. A swirl of strong arms enveloping abandoned joy. Love. Acceptance. Right-ness. Oh-so-indescribible and abounding grace. All’s right, made new, bold and beautiful, right and pure, perfect and right. When we get the Message—that Jesus fixed it all, that God is who he says and can do what he says—we “throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise” (Romans 5:1-3 Message). We live and belong in those wide open spaces, where we are utterly, completely, unimaginably loved.
And there, in that exam room, that nearly pushed me over the edge to outright sobs. In the middle of my longing to spare my son, sheer gratefulness exploded. I think I understand a little better Paul’s admonition to talk with God with thanksgiving as well as petition. That kind of love is simply overwhelming. It can’t be contained. It spills out in gratitude, even in the midst of struggle.
I so long for everyone to experience that love—to know it in the core of who they are. It changes everything. It changes everything for me.
(Image: my son on the couch after the doctor visit)