“What is Real?” asked the Rabbit one day…”Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because when you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
~~The Velveteen Rabbit
But He [Christ] said to me [Paul], “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
~~II Cor. 12:9-10
When our daughters were little girls, The Velveteen Rabbit was one of their favorite storybooks. And it is a tremendous book. But I honestly can’t think of a time, while reading the above passage, that I didn’t cry. Why, I could barely type it without getting weepy. It is such a parable of the Christian life.
So, let me ask…Are you Real? I think I am on my way. There have been many times in this Skin Horse’s life when I have felt like I have had my hair loved off (when our darling first-born, Jessica, died of SIDS at 3 months old), when it felt like my eyes would surely drop out (when my Daddy suddenly had a brain aneurysm and I held his hand as the machines were turned off and he was ushered into the presence of Jesus), when I've gotten loose in the joints (age happens…) & have felt very shabby (using every drop of our savings after my dear husband was laid off last year can wear on one’s feeling of security). Real life can be ugly in this fallen old world.
But, I can’t be ugly to my God & my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am God’s child. HE has made me Real! One beautiful May evening in 1982, at age 23, I took my first step toward ultimate reality. I became a child of THE King!
Many times since that night, like Paul, I have been weak. But my Savior was there to minister to me & to put the pieces of my repentant heart back together & to forgive me – all over again – of my sins.
I have suffered so many insults. You can’t leave the life I led without being cast off, ridiculed, misunderstood or insulted by old friends and even family members. But my Savior was there to capture all of my tears and treasure them in a bottle. His love caused the bruises from those insults to become prayers of forgiveness and opportunities to ask the Lord to make Himself real to those lost people.
I have suffered hardships. Most recently has been my husband’s lay off last year. We were going to remodel our house & were in the process of saving to open my dream of a bulk food business, Marmee’s Pantry. But I have a Savior Who, even though my dream has been post-poned and our house still needs to be remodeled, causes us to be thrilled that we simply still HAVE our home! It's been a long year.
I have been persecuted. Isn’t it funny how our unsaved loved ones seem to almost lie in wait for us to make even the appearance of the slightest slip up? And when we do – because no one is perfect – they are right there throwing our mistakes right back in our faces…and even “spread the word” and add a little spice to the story in the process. But I have a Savior Who opens the gate of opportunity for explanation, correction of any lies told and a restoration of any reputation that may have been damaged.
I have had difficulties. Is there any Christian who hasn’t? There are times when I feel as if my life before Christ was carefree and fun. And then I remember that, whether I realized it at the time or not, that there is always a reckoning. A price MUST be paid for one’s sin. The cost of some people's sins are obvious…a child born before marriage, a scar from a sordid past. The scars from some difficulties are buried so deeply inside that they can haunt a person for the rest of their lives. But I have a Savior Who walks with me through my difficulties and causes me to come through them victorious!
And victory in Jesus is REAL! And, I suppose, that’s the part that unbelievers don’t understand because it’s beyond understanding. It surpasses understanding! This is a sinful, fallen world and those who hold fast to it will reap it’s false rewards.
My prayer is that if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior yet, that you SOON will. That you will know His peace that surpasses all understanding! (Phil. 4:7) And that if you do know Jesus as your Savior, that you will draw closer and closer to Him until that day when He calls you Home.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” ~~Phil. 1:21
Now THAT’S real!