The Only

We have seen his glory. The glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Amelia, my 8 year old daughter and my parents’ only granddaughter, has a back-and-forth game that she plays with my parents. It goes something like this:

“Amelia, you are our favorite granddaughter!”

And Amelia’s one word reply, “Only.”

Or, “Amelia, you are our sweetest granddaughter!”

And Amelia’s one word reply, “Only.”

When it comes down to it, though, Amelia knows that even if she were one of ten granddaughters, she would still be her grandparents’ “only” in some way. Their only 8-year-old granddaughter, their only cello-playing granddaughter, their only nose-in-a-book-from-morning-to-night granddaughter.

For a long time, my son Ryan was our “only.” When Amelia came along shortly before Ryan turned 7, he summarily announced that he wanted to throw her in the garbage. All she did was eat and cry. There wasn’t even much sleep in those early days, so we can’t really include that in her list of infant talents. She couldn’t climb the hill behind our house, or play in the creek, or even build with the Duplo baby Legos. What use was she?

8 years later, they adore each other. She is his “only” sister. He is her “only” brother.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” So says Victor Hugo in Les Miserables. To gaze upon the faces of our children is to glimpse God’s glory.

We have had a difficult school year this year. To call it “challenging” puts a positive light on what, at times, should really be called hyper-academic misery. And we are eclectic homeschoolers, so really, we’ve gotten ourselves into this mess. We can’t blame the administration, or the government, or even the common core.  Like Mike Mulligan and his trusty steam shovel, we dug the hole and didn’t seem to leave ourselves a way out.

In the midst of these moments of misery, I have gazed on the face of my only son, twisted in concentration, set firm with determination, forehead furrowed, communicating the struggle and the exhaustion wrought by the demands of each day. He refuses to quit. And in him, I see the tenacious face of God’s relentless grace and truth. God’s glory manifest in the struggle.

This is how God comes to us. This is the Word made flesh. This is how God’s glory shines.   Truth and grace meet us in the struggle. Truth and grace meet us in our love for one another.

You, too, have seen the glory of God.

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