It happened every time I walked across the play yard to the baby room. And it started as soon as I was in view.
“Laurentz!” They yelled.
“Ou Mama Laurentz?” They asked.
“Oui.” I said.
“Ou Mama Laurentz?” They asked, again and again.
“Oui, mwen Mama Laurentz.” I said as I touched their faces or rubbed their hair.
I looked over them to see Laurentz on his nanny’s lap. His bright eyes were waiting for mine and when our gaze met, his face lit up. He pointed in my direction. “Hurry!” he seemed to say as she finished getting him ready.
It wasn’t that they understood that I am actually Laurentz’s adoptive Mom, it’s just that they know I came for him. I chose him. Just like visiting missionaries who get attached to a certain child get dubbed Mama Lito or Papa Guivenson, I was Mama Laurentz.
I glanced again at Laurentz. He wriggled free from his nanny and came charging across the baby room with his too large shoes flapping on the concrete. He held up his arms to me and I scooped him up and hugged him close.
Oh, how I love that boy!
“Ou Mama Laurentz?” The other babies kept asking, even as I walked away with my son.
Oui, I thought to myself, mwen Mama Laurentz. But oh, how I wished I could be Mama to all. I wished I could choose each one. I wished I could bring the kind of wide smile that brightens Laurentz’s face to each one of those beautiful babies.
I still wish I could say to each one: I choose you.
Those babies long for love. And when someone reaches out and says “I choose you,” it changes their entire countenance. When they know… No matter their saggy diaper, their runny nose, their too-big shoes… I choose you. Something significant shifts inside of them.
I remember that feeling myself. On my knees, in a chapel, not long after my divorce. Feeling horrible for the things I’d done and not done. Dressed spiritually in a saggy diaper, my hands dirty and my eyes to the ground. Figuring of all the people God would choose, it wouldn’t be me.
And up walked my God. I choose you. I still choose you.
And what I understand even more today is that it’s mutual. My response mattered to God. Just like when I walked to that baby room with such joy, looking for Laurentz – his joy at my arrival quadrupled my own. His smile, his delight, his wriggling to get into my arms – I loved it!
I don’t know how God does it, but He does. He chooses each one of us. He chooses you. And you. And you. In His world, no one is left behind. No one is left standing at the gate with their arms outstretched, tears on their faces.
And if my heart exploded with joy when Laurentz ran to me with a smile, how much more does our God delight when we run to him, when we receive his love and let the joy ooze out of every pore.
He chooses you. And you. And you.
Now run to him…. Let your shoes flap on the concrete as you raise up your arms and smile wide.
Because, my friend, he’s come for you.