Monday, April 25, 2011

The Velveteen Rabbit

When our children were young our friend Christy Bicknell gave them a beautiful copy of the book The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. I have never been able to read the story without crying. It's just such a wonderfully moving story that it causes the reader to never look at stuffed toys the same way again and to understand the true power of love.

In the story a boy is given a stuffed rabbit for Christmas, which is snubbed by the other nursery toys because he is not mechanical. One day the rocking horse, tells the rabbit  that a toy becomes real if its owner really and truly loves it and that "... once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always." Of course the little rabbit longs to become real.

When the boy's usual bedtime toy is misplaced, the Velveteen Rabbit is given to the boy to sleep with instead. The Velveteen Rabbit soon takes his place as the boy's constant companion. He goes everywhere with the boy. The Rabbit becomes well worn: the plush of his 'fur' is worn away and the satin in his ears is frayed but the boy loves his rabbit anyways.

 The boy contracts scarlet fever and becomes too sick to play for a very long time. The little rabbit stays under the bed covers with the boy.  When he recovers his doctor sends the boy to the seashore to recouperate. The doctor orders all the toys the boy has played with, including the rabbit, be burned in order to disinfect the nursery.

The boy is given a new stuffed rabbit and is so excited about his trip that he forgets his old faithful companion, the Velveteen Rabbit. The gardener gathers all the toys into a sack and leaves it in the garden to be burned the next day. The little rabbit wiggles to the top of the bag and cries a real tear. This tear brings forth a fairy who kisses the rabbit and makes him truly real. (He was only real to the boy before.) He becomes a real bunny which hops and plays with the rabbits in the wood.

Our children had 'real' stuffed toys too. They had many stuffed toys but only three became 'real'. Benjamin had 'Benjamin Bear', Matthew had 'Baby' and Alannah had 'Snow'. All three had adventures of their own: like the time 'Baby' was accidentally left in a doctor's office in Knoxville, 90 minutes away from home and we had to go back the next day to retrieve him. Or the time that 'Snow', a white stuffed kitten was lost in the playground of our apartment complex in the winter time with snow on the ground. Or the tramatic experience of 'Benjamin Bear's' first wash in the washing machine.

Our kids have given most of their childhood toys away but those three will stay with us probably forever. Because they were well loved they became real. That's just like us: because Jesus well loved us we can become what we were intended to be: eternal beings that live forever. Death only entered into our world when Adam and Eve chose to sin. But we can have eternal life if we choose to ask Christ into our life. We can become 'real'. We are spiritual beings living in a body that is very limited. This body of ours will one day wear out, just like the Velveteen Rabbit's, no matter how well we care for it. But if we are a follower of Christ, when we pass from this life into life eternal, we will be given a glorified body, one without restrictions. No pain, no wear and tear, no need of sleep or rest.

God loved us so much that even though mankind had turned their back on Him, He still provided a Way for us to return to Him. That Way is Jesus Christ. If we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us of our sins and welcome us into His kingdom. He will give us a place in Heaven. He will give us eternal life. He will give us a new body. And most importantly He will give us new life, a REAL life free from guilt from the past, free from condemnation, free from shame. Just like the fairy set the rabbit free from his limited stuffed body and gave him a new life as a real rabbit, Christ sets us free to enjoy life the way He intended us to.

 "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36

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