Years ago, I was sitting in a Fredericton restaurant for lunch with my wife and two daughters on our way to a visit with my sister and her family.
Robyn, our oldest daughter, was seven and Sophie, our youngest at the time, was three. During the three years since Sophie’s arrival, Robyn went through some typical older kid anxiety.
To an older sibling, babies and toddlers must seem like attention hogs. Despite our best efforts, doubts still crept into Robyn’s mind. Under the surface of her frequent comments and questions, we heard insecurity lurking. But that night in the restaurant, she came right out with it.
Sitting across from us, over a kiddie meal of chicken nuggets and fries, she said, “Who do you love more, daddy? Me or Sophie?” Her blue eyes were earnest and matter-of-fact through her little round glasses. It seemed as if she were waiting for me to confirm what she already believed.
The normal parental response is to say, “I love you both the same!” It may be true, but it’s an unsatisfactory platitude that doesn’t reassure kids of their special value.
I wasn’t expecting the question, so I’m glad the Holy Spirit took over.
“Let me tell you something,” I said. “You can’t love somebody a little bit. The word ‘love’ means to give everything. I would give everything I have for Sophie. And I would give everything I have for you. I love you both more than life itself. In fact, if you ever run into someone who says they love this person more than that person, then you know they don’t really love either one, because they don’t know what love is. You have all my love. You either love someone, or you don’t.”
I was a little startled by my own response, but that seemed to put the question to rest for Robyn. It never came up again.
A few years later, I was listening to a speaker talk about how God the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus. I was skeptical at first, thinking that the speaker was taking some liberties with the scripture somewhere, so I investigated his references.
I am one with them, and you are one with me, so that they may become completely one. Then this world’s people will know that you sent me. They will know that you love my followers as much as you love me. John 17:23
There it was—spoken by Jesus himself. I’d read that verse many times before, but never absorbed it. I was floored. But the Holy Spirit quickly reminded me of the words that came out of my own mouth that afternoon in the restaurant. If God loves us, that means we have it all. All His love with nothing held back or reserved for someone who’s “more special.”
Regardless of our circumstances or our perception that He’s favouring someone else more than us, if God loves us as much as He loves Jesus, we can be sure we have all His love.