My husband, who is not yet a believer in God, read an old children’s story today called “The Velveteen Rabbit.” He texted me later to say that it was “very enjoyable” so I decided to revisit the story to see what it had to say about the eternal themes of love and sacrifice.
It’s a very gently written book that I was planning to give to my two-year old niece Alexis to help shape her heart and conscience.
Some beautiful passages that struck me, that I thought others might like to read too:
“The Rabbit could not claim to be Real, for he didn’t know that Real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself.” This is our condition when we are alone spiritually, without God in the world. As it is written:
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world…(Ephesians 2:12)
“Real isn’t how you are made’, said the Skin Horse. “It happens to you when a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with, but really loves you. Then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “By the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and you have become very shabby. But these things don’t matter, because once you are Real you can never be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“Are you Real?” asked the Rabbit.
“Yes, said the Skin Horse. “The Boy’s uncle made me Real a great many years ago. Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again.”
What is this longing we have to be truly loved, in spite of our many defects, to be honoured in spite of the many actions we undertake that show simply that we do not deserve it? Where does the longing for transcendence over the bitterness of our earthly struggles come from? Hasn’t God placed eternity in our hearts? As the Bible teaches us:
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. (Ecc. 3:11)
And don’t we seek His face everywhere, like pilgrims setting out on a long and arduous journey for the faith we had so easily when we were little ones? The scriptures tell us that the longing for Christ is universal:
And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. (Mark 1:37)
Here then is our hope. We do have someone who loves us unconditionally in spite of our sins and difficulties: God. By accepting His love and being “born again” spiritually we can transcend our old, earthly nature and become truly Real. Just as the Velveteen Rabbit became Real due to the Boy’s enduring love for him. One of the greatest passages in scripture, from the book of John, reveals God’s beautiful promise for all people:
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:4-8)