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For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
by Beth Carroll
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Perhaps there is no question adults relish more than asking this of children. A child’s answer, with its innocent lack of self-filtering and posturing, can paint a precious vision of the core of their being. An astronaut? A chef? A doctor? An artist? When my son was four, he wanted to be a lawnmower repairman. He loved the sense of power and accomplishment associated with operating a piece of mechanical wonderment; watching our lawn go from overgrown and weedy to neatly clipped and well…still weedy. Lets just say, he didn’t get his horticultural love from his parents. Even now at 18, he takes great pride in caring for our yard. Not once have I asked him to mow the lawn; he just does it. (Yes, I realize how lucky I am.) Like the seeds at the center of fruit, a child’s imagination points towards who he or she might one day become.
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. These labels for a baby boy carry a lot of gravitas, don’t they? What dumbfounds me with this verse is that the New Revised Standard Version assigns these titles not as what Jesus would one day become, once he has a bachelor’s degree and five years of job experience. It points to who he already is. They are not Jesus’s titles out of maturity and merit; they are his because HE IS.
The same can be said for how God loves us. We don’t mature our way into the benefits of being loved by the one who is Wonderful, Mighty, Everlasting, and Peace. We are loved, simply because we are loved, because it is the relational nature of who God is. This is the core of God’s being. Our culture challenges us to dream and grow and aspire and push and evolve and groan, so that we might achieve. But in Christ, God already sees our completeness. The presence of Christ in this world means we are no longer a lawn needing perpetual mowing, we are already neatly clipped and, unlike my lawn, no longer weedy.
May God give you a vision of your fullness. May that vision of how profoundly you are loved excite and propel you to live into that fullness today. You are not weeds; you are Kentucky Bluegrass. Let this be your eschatological Christmas gift.
Beth Carroll is a student at Western Theological Seminary, while also working as Director of Youth Ministry at Hope Church in Holland, Michigan.