by Ron DeBoer
When my daughter was eight years old she talked me into taking her to the Build-A-Bear Workshop at our local mall. It’s a teddy bear factory where kids and adults create their own stuffed animals. She’d received a gift certificate from her grandmother with the promise that she “will feel like she’s created a new life.” (Grandma enjoys putting me through these experiences.) When we arrived, we were greeted by a smiley, silver-haired woman—a Build-A-Bear associate—who welcomed us as guests to the workshop. Then we progressed through a series of stations, first choosing a bear from a row of bins and then recording a sound chip to give the bear a voice. Next, at the “Stuff Me” station, we filled the bear with stuffing for “just the right huggability.” Then, at the “Heart Stuff” station, we selected a small satin heart, which the Build-A-Bear associate encouraged us both to kiss and to make a wish for the future success of the bear. While I had difficulty keeping a straight face during this bear creation—marveling at the marketing genius behind the outfit—my daughter’s eyes sparkled as if she’d been invited to live in Disneyland. She was in heaven! When her bear “Chloe” was completed, she hugged her and held on to her with all her might.
The Bible doesn’t give us much of a picture of God’s swelling pride when he created Adam. Genesis 2:7 simply reports, “Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” No mention of huggability. No cigars or celestial announcement. But you know God must have felt amazing pride at the likeness he created in his own image. Same for Eve: “So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the LORD God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man” (2:21-22). Moses, the author of Genesis, doesn’t give us language that describes God’s deep love for man and woman, but there’s evidence that he was emotionally invested in his created images. Look how disappointed he was when Adam and Eve disobeyed him and ate of the tree. He punished them and banished them from the garden. We also see his displeasure when he decided to destroy the world with a flood. Genesis 6:6 says that seeing humans acting evil “broke his heart.”
Even though the Old Testament doesn’t give us fuzzy descriptions of God’s love for those he created, we know that he, too, did a sort of “Heart Stuff” routine. He loved us so much that he gave us Jesus Christ to die for us. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” In Ecclesiastes 3:11 Solomon says, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart.”
In that Build-A-Human Workshop at the beginning of time, God created man and woman and put light and eternity in their hearts. He does the same for you and me. In Psalm 139:13-14 David says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”
In the children’s book You are Special by Max Lucado, the main character Punchinello is a wooden Wemmick. In the world of these carved wooden creatures, if you accomplish good things, other Wemmicks put a golden star sticker on your body. But if you aren’t very good at jumping or if your nose is too big, people put gray dot stickers on you. Punchinello is covered in gray dot stickers. One day he decides to visit the workshop of Eli, his maker. Eli knows Punchinellos name—he knows the names of all the wooden Wemmicks he has created. He tells Punchinello that he loves him no matter how many gray dots he has and that he doesn’t care what the other Wemmicks think. At the end of the story, Eli says, “Remember, you are special because I made you, and I don’t make mistakes.”
God didn’t make a mistake with you, either. He knew you while you were being knitted inside your mother; he knows everything about you today. He put more than a satin heart inside you—he put a heart big enough for himself to live inside you forever. All you have to do is ask, and he’ll move in.
That’s all the huggability you need.