I remember when my grandfather passed away. I remember a deep sorrow mixed with a hint of relief. Sorrow, for he was no longer with us. Relief in knowing he was no longer suffering.
Towards the end of Papa’s life, he had begun to show signs of dementia. The man who raised me and doted on me as a child, the man who brought boxes of bandaids home to fuel my strange obsession, the man who waited for me at the bus stop every day after school eventually had no recollection of who I was.
He was always as sweet as ever, smiling when I’d appear in the doorway, but he no longer knew my name, my face. He would smile and nod knowingly whenever I’d remind him, “Papa, it’s me, Becky. Your granddaughter.” But sometimes I think he just did it to humor me.
To be honest, it was hard for me to understand. But I knew it wasn’t his fault. I wasn’t upset. It just made me sad sometimes. It also made me really appreciate the times he did remember me. The whole family would all beam with joy when he remembered any one of us.
When I read the following words, I always think about how deeply saddening it is to not be known.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. | John 1:9-11
Imagine a child not recognizing a parent, a sister not recognizing her brother, a husband not recognizing his wife. How pained the forgotten one must feel. Is it not the same for our God, the Creator of the world, the one who breathed mankind into existence? Does He not feel sorrow when His own creations, His own children do not know Him, recognize Him, or believe in His existence?
Such somber words.
How could I have ever not recognized my own Father? But it’s not just me – I’m not the only one. It’s a recurring theme in the story of humanity. Each of us failed to recognize our Creator. Each of us failed to recognize the One who second-by-second keeps our hearts beating and our lungs expanding.
Crazy, isn’t it?
But the parent, brother, wife who was forgotten – their love remains, doesn’t it? They still love the one who has forgotten them – regardless of what that person says or does in that forgetfulness. The same is true of our God. The same, but in absolute perfection; the same, but in absolute boundlessness.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, | John 1:12
How awesome is it that He loves us to this extent, despite our past ignorance, arrogance, and rejection?
Suddenly, somber words become joyful words! When we receive Him, we are not only given a new life in Christ, we are made royalty. We are made legitimate heirs to a heavenly and eternal inheritance. We are given full access to an unlimited God who possesses all things in abundance.
If you know Him, praise Him for this truth. Thank Him for giving you eyes to see Him, a mind to know Him, and a heart to love Him.
If you don’t know Him, you can. All it takes is a desire to know Him and an action that follows in suit. Read the Bible. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He most certainly will (Proverbs 8:17).
Be willing to see Him.
The joy my family experienced when Papa remembered our names and faces is the tiniest fraction of joy God experiences when even a single person comes to know Him as Father and Friend. How crazy is that? God, the Creator of the universe, delights in us knowing HIM. That’s like saying the President gets excited about meeting us. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we delight in knowing the Creator?
Y e s .
We should and we must. But knowing Him means spending time with Him in prayer, in the studying of His Word, in fellowship with others who also know Him.