February 2, 2008

No strings attached

Yesterday I sorted the contents of a box I’d labeled “Mom’s Treasures.” There wasn’t much in it, but after my mother died, opening it raised too many emotions up until now. As I read old letters, looked at the cards sent to her when my father died, and handled the bits of jewelry and other remnants of her life, I remembered her loving care for me and my siblings. She was as good an example of human love that I’ve ever known.

I thought of human love while reading today’s selection in God is Enough. It said that even our love longs to pour out blessings on those we care about. Mom was like that. The reading also points out that if people can love like that, how much more does God want to bless us? Yet at times we get it backwards and think that if we don’t please God or love Him as we ought, He will not be pleased with us, nor bless and love us, at least not fully. On that thought, I did some digging and found the following story:
A gentleman who was a professed Christian was taken seriously ill. He became troubled about the little love he felt in his heart for God, and spoke of his experience to a friend. This is how the friend answered him.

“When I go home from here, I expect to take my baby on my knee, look into her sweet eyes, listen to her charming prattle, and tired as I am, her presence will rest me; for I love that child with unutterable tenderness. But she loves me little. If my heart were breaking it would not disturb her sleep. If my body were racked with pain, it would not interrupt her play. If I were dead, she would forget me in a few days. Besides this, she had never brought me a penny, but was a constant expense to me. I am not rich, but there is not money enough in the world to buy my baby. How is it? Does she love me, or do I love her? Do I withhold my love until I know she loves me? Am I waiting for her to do something worthy of my love before extending it?”
The downside of this touching illustration is that there are many who have not experienced this love from a parent. They long for it and have difficulty imagining that God could love them. Sometimes they draw their hearts into a fist and determine they can manage without it, yet they spend their lives looking for it, often in the wrong places.

I know myself how much I suffer if I feel unloved, but I also know that human love eventually fails me. No matter how good it is, there is still a hole, a void that cries out for that total and unconditional love that can only be found in the heart of my perfect Father.

Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’” He drew me to Himself; I didn’t come on my own.

1 John 4:9-10 adds this, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” He knew that if a relationship with Him depended on my feelings, I would not be up to it. Instead, He initiated this relationship by taking the first step; He demonstrated His love for me, and what a giant step He took to do just that!

The Bible makes it clear: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Like the baby in the illustration, I was asleep in my sin, oblivious of the love of God and unaware that I should love Him, but God loved me even when I was like that. No matter what I do, have done, or will do, the love of God remains the same. He is always and forever loving me, and because this is true, I can rejoice and be content—I am loved and that longing and deep void has been completely filled.

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