Like most families, I suppose, at our house, we’ve got lots of pictures of our kids when they were growing up. Some of those pictures are hanging on our walls. But, my wife has been really good at gathering pictures into albums, even organizing them by year so we can occasionally sit on the couch and remember where we’ve been all our lives. Vacations we’ve taken. Events we’ve attended. Specific moments that were important to us, at least at the time, that we’ve documented with pictures.
One of my favorite pictures in all of those albums is not a picture of an event, exactly. It’s a picture of our youngest son, Simeon who is now a grown man. But the picture I love was taken when he was perhaps five or six years old, as he sat next to a stream of water, wearing an old, red flannel hat he used to love to wear. His shirt had a slogan written across the front of it. And the words are still a favorite part of my memory, when I see that now-yellowed-with-age picture. His shirt read: “I was custom made in heaven.”
I have always been fascinated by the incredible creative power of God. In fact, I think God intended us to be aware of that amazing attribute that God continually demonstrates. He began his book with five simple words that have profound meaning: “In the beginning, God created ….” And from that creative second that God started his amazing creation until this very moment in time, God has been busy doing unique things. Every spring, trees that lost their leaves the previous fall, busily begin to grow new foliage. But the new leaves aren’t identical to the old ones. They are unique. Never before seen. Different from any other leaf on any other tree in the world that has ever been or ever will be.
The rising of each day’s sun paints a picture that is different from any other day’s rising painted by any other day’s sun. If I stood on my back porch and documented each day’s dawn, and I saved the pictures in some gigantic album? If the angels who watched God, that very first morning had decided to take pictures of every sunrise from that moment until now? Every single moment they documented would be totally different from and unique to that particular moment. No two grains of sand duplicated. No two strands of DNA the same. Fingerprints are unique. The hairs on our heads are unique.
The core meaning of ‘unique’ comes from a Latin word, meaning ‘one,’ as in ‘being only one of its kind.’ I like the idea that ‘unique’ cannot be messed with or modified by adverbs like ‘really’ or ‘quite’ or even ‘very.’ There are no stages between ‘unique’ and ‘totally unique.’ Unique is not simply noteworthy. It’s way more than remarkable. If anything is unique, it is indeed ‘one-of-a-kind.’
Maybe that’s why I like that unique picture of Simeon so much. A one-of-a-kind memory that I can reflect on; a truth that will never be diminished or go away: “I was custom made in heaven.”
Simeon was custom-made in heaven. And so are you.