Eight Years Worth of Love
by Carol Davis Gustke
The troubled eyes of my 8-year-old son stared up at me as I tucked him in bed for the night. Often at these times we shared the day's events and ended with a quiet prayer.
"Why the serious face, Luke?" I asked. "Did something happen today?"
He nervously bit the corner of his lip and snuggled farther down into his covers. "Mom," he said hesitantly, "is it OK if I don't love Jesus a lot?"
His question startled me, and for a moment I didn't answer. But I knew he needed more than a mother's pat on the head or kiss on the cheek to cure his uneasiness. As I settled myself on the edge of his bed, I prayed silently that God would give me wisdom.
"Luke," I began slowly, "when you were born did you know your daddy and me?"
"No," he murmured softly, shaking his head.
"Do you remember us taking care of you?" Again he shook his head no. I gently squeezed his hand and smiled. "Of course you don't, and that's the way it's supposed to be. But your daddy and I knew you and loved you very much.
When you were hungry, we fed you. When it was cold outside, we wrapped you in warm blankets. Some nights we rocked you to sleep when your tummy hurt. We didn't ask you to love us back; we just loved you. But do you know what began to happen?" I asked.
"Tell me," he urged. “As you grew older, you learned to recognize us,” I said. “You would hold out your arms when we walked into your room. And your first words were “Mama” and “Dada.” It wasn't long before you were giving love back to us, even though it was just a baby's worth of love. The longer you knew us, the more you loved us."
“That's how it is in loving Jesus," I explained. "When you’re born into his family, you know very little about him. But he loves you anyway and takes care of you like a newborn baby. Then as you pray to him and read the Bible, you begin to know him and to love him back. The longer you know him the more you love him."
Luke turned his head to one side and gave me a long, thoughtful look. "Then it's OK if I only love him eight years' worth?" he asked. "That's just perfect," I answered, blinking back the tears.
Luke heaved a sigh of relief, "Mom, you sure know how to answer my questions good." As I left Luke's room, I was deeply moved and could only marvel at the honesty of a little boy's question and the beauty of God's wisdom in answering it.
Carol Davis Gustke was an author who lived in Battle Creek, Michigan. Her husband, Art, graciously gave MOMSnext permission to publish this piece following Carol’s death.