I remember walking into Sunday night church as a child and passing by a mural with John 3:16 painted on the cinder block walls. I memorized that verse long ago, and up until last year, I thought I got it. 

Jesus saved me as a preteen. I wholly understand Jesus died for our sins, that God gave His Son because we sin. I know that.

The ratio, while tragic, made sense. One person, Jesus, died so every person who ever lived has the hope of Heaven. That’s a 1:100,000,000,000 person trade off. I understand those odds. If I died so 100 billion people could live, then OK. I would make that sacrifice in a heartbeat. 

Thinking of yourself in that position is one thing; thinking of your child in that position is totally different. 

Enter Charlie 

The first time they put Charlie in my arms that Thanksgiving day, it clicked. If anyone ever lays one hand on this beautiful baby, I promise to bring my wrath on them. You better not look at this precious, innocent child the wrong way unless you want all this 5-foot-2, southern momma coming at you full speed. I’m short, but I’m scrappy. 

I almost kicked someone out of my car while driving down the highway for saying something about his red hair. I get riled up just thinking about that, so I better change the subject fast.  

At worst, I could break your nose and scratch you a bunch, maybe post some mean things about you on the internet. I might leave you on the side of the road. It probably depends on how much I slept the night before. 

But God holds all the power in the universe. And He didn’t damn us. He didn’t annihilate humanity. He forgave us. That blows my mind, even though I’ve been a Christian for a long time. 

The trade off isn’t understandable; it’s unfathomable. I was so, so wrong. 

Teething Gospel

God taught me one other lesson in these last five months. About three weeks ago, my baby started teething from the back of his mouth. He got fussier and fussier — particularly in the afternoons — until my husband came home and found us both in tears. 

It never matters how much Charlie cries, I still long to hold him. After a few weeks of this — I’m a slow learner — I remembered that Bible verse about nonstop prayer, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. While I love this verse, I don’t totally understand it. Why does God want my prayers all the time? I am exhausting. 

None of that matters to God, and now I see that. Even when we fuss or cry for no reason, He still wants our constant prayers. Even when we cry because we stayed awake too long, and the answer to all our problems is to just fall sleep, He wants our whiny cries delivered directly to the gates of Heaven. 

Charlie lies in his crib next to me as I write this, blowing raspberries and fighting sleep. If he closes his eyes and takes a nap, everything might improve. I wonder how many times God looked down on me and said that exact same thing: “Relax. Go to sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up. I’m not going anywhere.” 

You don’t need a baby to understand this. I have some dear, childless friends who understand all of this. They’re smarter than me. You probably are, too. God calls us sons and daughters for a reason — to get us to understand how deep His love is. Maybe I learn slowly. Maybe I’m just a little dumb. Or maybe you thought the same thing. 

Maybe it took a tiny baby placed in your arms for you to wrap your mind around salvation.