Summary: The classic story of The Velveteen Rabbit is really a story of redemption, and isn’t that our story as well?
Tomorrow my granddaughter has to turn in her Book Fair project on her favorite book, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It’s a story that most of you are probably familiar with about a boy receives a Velveteen Rabbit for Christmas. The Velveteen Rabbit is snubbed by some of the other better made and more expensive toys who think that they are real. One day while talking with one of the toys, the Skin Horse, the rabbit learns that real is not how you are made or how expensive you were, but that a toy becomes real if its owner really and truly loves it. One night, when the boy’s china dog cannot be found, the Velveteen Rabbit takes its place and becomes the boy’s constant companion. Over time the rabbit becomes shabbier, but the boy loves him no matter what.
While outside one day, the Velveteen Rabbit meets some very well-made toy rabbits with no seams (they are actual rabbits), and the Velveteen Rabbit learns about the differences between himself and the real rabbits.
His companionship with the boy lasts through the winter and the next summer, until the boy falls ill with scarlet fever. The boy becomes too ill to play for very long at a time and upon his recovery, he is sent to the seaside on doctor’s orders. The boy wants to take his rabbit with him, but his doctor forbids him to take the diseased toy. Not only can he not take the rabbit, but the doctor says it must be burned along with all the nursery toys in order to disinfect the house from the germs.
The boy is given a new plush rabbit with glass eyes and is so excited about the trip to the seaside that he forgets his old Velveteen Rabbit. Forgotten, rejected, in the bag with all the other infected toys, and waiting for the bonfire in which he will be destoryed, the rabbit cries a real tear. This tear summons the Nursery Magic Fairy. The rabbit thinks he was real before, but the fairy tells him he was only real to the boy. She flies him to the woods, where he realizes that now he is a real rabbit and he runs to join the other rabbits in the wild. The following spring, the boy sees the rabbit hopping in the wild and thinks he looks like his old Velveteen Rabbit, but he never knows that it actually was.
It’s a very good story and a real classic, but as we were going over it with my granddaughter I realized that there are a lot of similarities in that story and our own story of redemption, because, you see, in the end, The Velveteen Rabbit is ultimately a story of redemption. So, in a sense, we are all Velveteen Rabbits.
In the story, the boy receives the Velveteen Rabbit for Christmas and eventually it becomes his favorite toy and his constant companion. He loves the rabbit more than anything else.
Well, in the beginning, all the way back to Genesis, God created man and woman to have dominion over the earth and all of the creatures on it. But more than anything else, He created them in His own image so that they could have fellowship with Him, so that we could be His constant companions.
I don’t know how you are with things that you’ve made with your own hands, but I’m usually very proud of the things that I make. I like them so much that I would proabably take them to bed with me if I could, much like a child does with a favorite toy. And my wife will tell you that that’s not an exageration. But God created us in His likeness, He loved us more than anything else in the universe, and He desired for us to worship and have fellowship with Him.
That was His intention anyway. But then we fell ill to a devestating disease. Not scarelt fever like in the story, but to a much more devesating disease, the disease of sin. In the story, the boy had contracted the fever and, as a result, all of his toys became infected as well. And no matter how much he loved the toys, he could not be exposed to them again. He could never again be in the company of his beloved rabbit.
Well, again our situation parallels the story because we had become infected by the disease of sin, and no matter how much God loved us, a holy God cannot be in the presence of sin. Because of our sin, God could not have fellowship with us.
Now, it’s at this point that the comparisons in the stories become a little sketchy, but we can still make some very real comparisons. Because he was infected with the scarlet fever, the Velveteen Rabbit was placed in a bag and set outside to be burned along with the other toys. He was very much powerless to change his situation. Romans 5: 6 says that when we were in our sin that "we were yet without strength." We were eaten up with the disease of sin, and we were powerless to do anything about it. Because of our sin we were doomed to an eternity in hell and an eternity separated from God, and there was absolutely nothing that we could do to change that. We were in the bag and waiting for the fire.