Most people with kids probably recognize the title of this post as the title of a children's book by Sam McBratney. In the book, Little Nutbrown Hare tries to explain to his Dad (Big Nutbrown Hare) how much he loves him. He starts by saying things like - "I love you as high as I can hop." Dad, hopping higher, responds by saying - "I love you as high as I can hop." Little Nutbrown Hare goes farther with something like - "I love you all the way to the big hill." Big Nutbrown Hare responds - "I love you all the way across the big hill and down to the river."
This goes on for some time until, sleepy, Little Nutbrown Hare curls up in bed and goes as far as he knows - "I love you all the way to the moon." Looking at his very sleepy child, Big Nutbrown Hare simply says something along the lines of - "Well, all the way to the moon, that is very far indeed." Then, as Little Nutbrown Hare sleeps, Big Nutbrown Hare whispers in his ear - "I love you all the way to the moon, and back."
My summary has not done the book justice. It is a book that holds a special place in the hearts of a lot of kids and their parents. But, for people that were not familiar with the book, you get the picture. Attempting to express their love for each other the two rabbits come up with the biggest expressions that they can. And they are big. All the way to the moon and back is a long way. When we read this book at home, sometimes we try to go farther - I love you to Pluto and back. I love you to the end of the universe and back. I love you to another universe and back.
For some reason in the strange way that my mind operates, I thought of this book this morning and of God's love for us. While we try to express our love in the biggest terms possible, it always accidentally has some outer limit - a boundary that defines a stopping point (the river, the moon, the edge of the universe, etc.), even if that point is barely something that we can imagine and not something that we intend. It is hard to express a limitless love.
God, though, found a way to express a love without limits. He says - I love you to the cross, and back. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (NIV) "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." 1 John 4:9 (NIV) That limitless love - love beyond life, love beyond death, eternal love - is given to all of us.
Thinking about it and praying about it, I want to hold on to that thought. And it works for all of us. Think about it, read it slowly and let it sit with you - God loves me to the cross, and back. Read it again, even more slowly, and let it apply to you - God loves me to the cross, and back.
It is a very simple message, but profound in its power. Recognizing it, accepting it and letting it live in our lives can comfort us, guide us, pick us up, remind us that we are never alone, give us strength and courage, protect us and help us.
God loves me (and you) to the cross, and back.