I am about to shamelessly exploit one of the perks of writing this column by announcing that I have two new granddaughters (cue trumpet fanfare), both born this summer and both exceedingly cute. (Grandparents can usually get by with saying obnoxious stuff like this, right?)
Our grand total is now six and I am completely crazy about these half-dozen little ones. The only tough thing about it is that, at least for now, three of them live thousands of miles away, in the San Francisco area. ("For now" is what I cling to.)
People say, "But you can always Facetime or Skype with them."
And I shake my head and say, "Not. The. Same."
Facetime and Skype are nice, as in "better than just a plain old phone call," but I can't kiss or snuggle an electronic device. Well, I could ? some people might ? but that's weird. I'm thankful technology allows me to catch a pixelated glimpse of the people I love, but those glimpses always leave me wanting more. I don't want to just see those pudgy baby cheeks; I want to squoosh them.
I think God gets this. In fact, I think His desire to be with us explains, in part, the weighty theological concepts of the incarnation of Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
(Ooops, did that jump from baby cheeks to theology just give you conversational whiplash?)
God has always wanted to be with the people He created, like He was in the Garden of Eden. Even after man's rebellion, God instructed His people to build a tabernacle, and later a temple, where His presence could dwell.
Then, in the most mind-boggling way imaginable, God came to us in the form of Jesus Christ, to walk among us and make a way for us, an unholy people, to live in relationship with a holy God. After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell His followers. Indwell -- as in live right inside us, up close and personal.
As wonderful as that is, for now our relationship with God is still usually kind of like a Facetime call. We still feel a separation because for us, for now, it's like seeing God "in a mirror dimly." (1 Corinthians 13:12)
But "for now" is what we can cling to. It won't always be this way. One day we'll see God face to face and we "will know fully just as (we) also have been fully known," the Apostle Paul says later in that same 1 Corinthians verse.
I can't wait for "one day" to get here. I can't wait to be done with "Facetime prayers" and to finally be able to climb right up on the lap of my Heavenly Father and fully experience the perfect love, peace and joy that emanates from Him.
God uses a variety of metaphors in the Bible to describe what He wants our relationship with Him to be like, but the one used most often is that of a parent and child. You know what that means? For one thing it means He wants to be with us, like I want to be with my kids and grandkids. (Actually more, because His capacity to love is so much greater.)
The eternally important question is: do we want to be with Him?
Everybody in hell will have one thing in common: they will all have answered "no" to that question.
God has done all He can do to prove how much He longs to be with us; now it's our turn.
"Yet to all who did receive Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God?." (John 1:12)
Mary Ann Crum (maryanncrum.com) lives in Abbeville and is the author of two books, "A Giggle Goes a Long Way" and "Live.Learn.Laugh!" She can be reached at email@example.com.