Baby’s birthday is reminder of God’s love

So much planning goes into children’s birthday parties. When our niece's boy, Eli, turned 1 recently, there were invitations sent in the mail, the ordering of a special cake and plenty of ice cream, and a houseful of guests.

The party was held in Oklahoma, and I couldn't attend, but I heard about it afterward. How the baby opened each gift and cooed in delight. How he played with each toy for just the right amount of time before going on to the next one. How he had cake all over his face and didn't care a bit.

Someone could wonder: Couldn't the baby be happy with so much less? In fact, a 1-year-old could find as much joy in a single daisy as an afternoon’s worth of planned activities. The answer lies in the parents, of course. They're going all out because they love the little guy so much they are practically beside themselves. The whole day is a celebration of this love.

And when I heard about Eli’s first party, I thought about the ways our heavenly father celebrates his love for us each day. He doesn't send cake and ice cream, but gifts nonetheless. There's the hummingbird that regularly visits our feeder out front. There are the gorgeous clouds boiling up in the sky before a storm hits. And let's not forget that lovely moon smiling at me when I climb out of bed early in the morning.

Scripture tells us that when God created the world, he placed human beings smack in the middle of a wondrous garden. And why did he do that? It was because of his love for them. Later he sent his son into the world, and that was also because of love. And Jesus told us that he came to bring us abundant life.

Who knows more about abundant life than a 1-year-old child? Little Eli relished every moment of the party, and last I heard, he was seen chasing the dogs with his toy golf clubs. The parents finally collapsed, exhausted, and later set themselves to clearing away the wrapping paper and the frosting-stained plates.

And the best part of all is that the parents will throw a big party all over again next year, just like God does everything for us one day and repeats it the next. He might not send invitations in the mail, but you can expect hummingbirds, clouds and a marvelous moon. And it’s all because he’s beside himself with love.

Lorraine Murray's latest books are "The Abbess of Andalusia," a spiritual biography of Flannery O'Connor, and "Death in the Choir," a mystery set in Decatur. Her e-mail address is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com