When my girls were little, they loved the book Guess How Much I Love You. It's the story of a mommy rabbit and her child. Each night they tell each other how much they love each other, each trying to outdo the other one. It finally ends with the baby rabbit saying, "I love you to the moon" and falling asleep. After he's asleep, the mommy rabbit says, "I love you to the moon -- and back." I must have read that story hundreds of times.
I think the reason kids love Guess How Much I Love You so much is because it gives really good examples of how big love can be. It starts with the child and mommy rabbits stretching out their arms, and saying "I love you this much." Each time they say something, the distance gets farther and farther away -- until they end at the moon. The message of the book is that a mom's love is bigger than a child can fathom.
We all have a yearning to be loved in a big way. We make choices -- good and bad -- based on our desire to be loved. We have a hole in our hearts that desperately needs to be filled with love. Yet, no matter how much our families love us, no matter how much our friends love us and no matter how much public adoration we get, that hole remains. We can try to stuff all sorts of other things in that hole, but the only thing big enough to fill it up is God's love. Everything else is just a poor substitute.
We don't often think about God's love being big. We think about it being unconditional or everlasting, but big is not an adjective that often comes to mind. Yet His love is big -- it's the biggest love there is. It can't be contained, and it covers everyone. God doesn't just love us "to the moon -- and back." He loves us beyond the edge of the galaxy -- and back. Psalm 57:10 says "For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies." God's love is bigger than we can imagine. Ephesians 3:17-18 tells us that unless we are planted in that love, we'll never know how big it is. "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."
Helping our kids grasp how big God's love is can give them a better sense of how much God truly loves them.
- Ask your kids to give you examples of how people show love to each other, especially at Valentine's Day. Talk about how big they think someone's love for another has to be to show love in certain ways. For example, you may love your friend who sits with you at school, and to show them love you might share your pencil or invite them over. That's different from how you might show love to a parent or sibling. Talk about how God shows His love for us. Discuss how big God's love must be for us to have sent His Son to die for us.
- Get three or four boxes of differing sizes. Ask your kids to label the biggest box with the name(s) of the person or people who they think love them the most. Continue down the line to the smallest box. You don't have to use names for this exercise. Think more along the lines of categories of people. When your kids are done, ask them how they made their decisions about how big each person's love for them is. Explain that God's love for us is so big, it won't fit in a box. Talk about how we can tell God's love is that big. Help your kids to think of examples of how God's love shows up in their lives.
- Put a big heart on the wall or draw one on a dry erase board. Label it "God's Big Love." At the end of the day, ask your family to write down in the heart ways God showed His love for them today. Help your kids compare God's love and how He shows it to how we show love to others.
God's love is big. It's so big that it covers all of us. Even better, it's so big it covers all of our sins. Too often we shrink God's love down to fit in a small box, but God's love can't be contained. It's bigger than we can ever imagine. It's more all-encompassing than anything our brains can fathom. God loves you this much -- the distance between two nail-scarred hands.
Join us all week as we talk about God’s love, and how you can create “Valentine’s moments” with your kids that help them understand God’s love.