My son lost himself in the quest, not noticing how much time was slipping away as the sun lowered on the horizon.
While others were busy swimming or laying on the dock, enjoying the goodness of July temperatures in the north, he was looking down. My son's eyes were scanning the bottom of the lake, searching for the perfect rocks to add to his collection.
When he asked me to help, I instictively asked why he wasn't collecting shells instead. "Look at this one," I observed, "It has such a lovely swirl and beautiful coloring." He looked up for a moment, uninterested but respectful, and told me we were looking for rocks.
"Look at this one!" He yelled, as he lifted a stone the size of his fist from the bottom. It was gray, and rough, nothing spectacular in my opinion.
"Wow," I responded, only half-looking at the ordinary piece of rubble he was turning over in his fingers.
"Isn't it great!" He exclaimed, with his typical enthusiasm, "It's perfect for my collection!"
As I kept scouring the bottom for one rock I deemed worthy of the word, "beautiful," he continued to pick up stone after stone, declaring them perfect.
I stuck with him for a few more minutes of searching, finding two rocks I thought were good enough to collect. He kept at it much longer, delighting in the process as much as the outcome.
At the end of the day, my son marched his bag of run-of-the-mill stones through the house and declared them to be a treasure he loved as much as Cam Bear, his most beloved stuffed animal.
These rocks were valuable to him because he declared them to be so. He loved them becasue he delighted in his search for them. He loved them because he found joy in their very existence. He loved them because of their similarities and distinctions, their smooth spots and sharp edges, their lightness and their weight.
In his innocence, he adored them for being exactly the way they were, and he declared them to be his treasures.
Oh, how much children have to teach us.
"He set me down in a safe place; He saved me to His delight; He took joy in me." - Psalm 18:19 (The Voice)
God delights in you. God delights in me. God delights in us.
God does not love us with an obligatory and dry, "I guess I should love them because they are my family" kind of love. God does not love us with a conditional, "I guess I should love them because they are beautiful and special and hardworking" kind of love.
God loves us with delight. He takes joy in our very existence.
He shouts about us to the cosmos with the innocent glee of a small child, "Look at these treasures! I love them!"