As you know, I am a father with a small quiver full of children. As such, I have had the chance to watch many hours of children’s programming over the years. To date, one of my favorites remains the old cartoon “Clifford the Big Red Dog”.
I think what I love most about the story, is captured beautifully by the theme song which played at the beginning of every episode:
“Clifford needed Emily, so she chose him for her own; And her love made Clifford grow so big, that the Howards had to leave their home…”
I smile every time I think about it, because through the interaction of Emily Elizabeth & Clifford, this simple cartoon illustrated the heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
For just as Clifford was a small puppy whom Emily Elizabeth loved & took for her own, so also each of us were lost – without God & without Hope – but our Heavenly Father sought us out, choosing us in the Son before we were ever even born (Ephesians 1:3-2:9). Thing is, it is not just that God chose us which correlates. In the same way that Emily Elizabeth’s love gave her tiny puppy his massive size as an adult, it is God’s love for us which transforms us as well (Ephesians 2:10).
As an added layer of beauty to this illustration, it is worth noting that Emily means “Loyal” & Elizabeth means “the God of the Covenant”. Romans 5:8 says that even while we were in Rebellion against Him, God loved us, was loyal to us, redeemed us from Sin & Death, so that He could bring us into covenant with Him through Jesus & Restore us to His Image. For just as Emily Elizabeth gave Clifford her heart & because she did so, Clifford gave her his; We love, because God loves us first (1 John 4:19).
This is Grace. This is the Way of the Cross. This is the Love of God.