How to become Real
The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness to myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Zephaniah 3:17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
The Velveteen Rabbit is a British children’s book written by Margery Williams in 1922. A stuffed rabbit sewn from velveteen is given as a Christmas present to a small boy. He is given several other presents that are modern and mechanical. The boy plays with his other new presents and forgets all about the Velveteen Rabbit.
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by and by, their mainsprings break, and they pass away. He knew they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “But when you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are Real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The boy’s uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
The rabbit is awed by this idea; however, he thought that his chances of achieving his wish were slight. One night, the boy’s nana gives the rabbit to the boy to sleep with, in place of a lost toy. The rabbit becomes the boy’s favorite toy, enjoying picnics with him in the spring; and the boy regards the rabbit as Real. Time passes, and the rabbit becomes shabbier but happy. He became Real because of love.
In this story, do you see yourself? Are you the little boy, the uncle, the Skin Horse or the Rabbit?
In truth, I think we can identify with all four of them a bit. I am envious of the Skin Horse. But more than likely, I am most like the Rabbit who wants to become real.
The Father is more like the uncle. He is “older” and wiser and has been really, really loving His children for a very long time.
REFLECT & PRAY
“God rejoices over you, though He knows you are in the process of becoming all that He has planned for you to become . . . God is patiently molding and shaping you into the image of His Son” (Stanley).
Father thank You for loving me with Your everlasting love and drawing me to Yourself. Thank You for taking special delight in me. You literally shout for joy as You embrace me in Your loving arms.
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness to myself.”
Because of His abounding love, the Father draws us to Himself. That makes us His children, but it doesn’t make us real. In order to become real, we have to experience His love for a very long time. Like the mechanical toys, many of us seem to break easily, have sharp edges, or an seem to require a lot of special handling. So in fact, He has been “handling” some of us for a long, long time. Some of the rough edges have been the knocked off. We have received a few dings, but have not been shattered. Eventually we began to enjoy His loving touch and embrace.
But there’s more.
The Father desires to make Himself known to us in a very special way. Wherever we are, He wants to be right there in the midst of it all. In fact, He is.
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
But there’s even more.
Zephaniah 3:17 For the LORD your God is living among you . . . He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
This verse expresses the Father’s sentiments regarding His children. He takes “delight” in us. This is could be translated “He will be very happy with you” (UBS). “The great God not only loves his saints, but he loves to love them” (Matthew Henry). “God takes great delight in loving us because we are His very own” (Jerry Bridges). Are you losing any fur yet?
The phrase, “You will rejoice over us with loud singing,” could be translated, “He will sing and be joyful over you” or “You will make his heart full of joy, and he will sing loudly” (UBS). He is so delighted that He shouts for joy! Much like when our favorite team wins a game. We shout and cheer and literally jump for joy.
Think about when you are at an airport and see close friends or family, or a husband and wife that have been apart for a long time. When they catch sight of each other, they run towards each other with exuberant joy. They hug, they dance around a bit, and perhaps a tear or two roles down their cheeks.
That’s the word picture of how the Father makes us Real.