And then suddenly, when those others start having faces and hearts and stories and brokenness, you begin to see just why Dad loves them like he loves you—unconditionally.
It’s not always easy to love if we’re honest. It’s not always easy to understand, from our perspective, how God is now, and has always been, love.
We expect performance. We expect to earn someone’s affection. We expect to be loved based on what we’ve accomplished.
Dad has no such expectations.
God created us to be the objects of his affection. It is our sole purpose to be loved by him and to love him back. But love is a choice, so it can only truly be love when the recipient chooses to love in return.
Thus, we get this creation we live in. There first had to be a choice—to turn away from God’s love and experience something other—or to turn around and experience Dad’s love for us—or the word we (mis)understand—repent.
Repent (turn around, it’s right behind you), Dad’s love has come near.
The gaping chasm we couldn’t cross with our works-based faith, with our compliance to external rules, our older brother has bridged. No longer are we estranged from Dad like we were. No longer are we orphans. No longer does Adam’s choice have to separate us.
It’s true, that choice has caused us to be born with a desire to face the wrong direction—to face away from Dad’s love. And once turned away, we only know how to attempt to make provisions for our self. We no longer have the ability to trust Dad with providing. We labor in the world to produce for ourselves.
We believe this is how it has to be.
But this all seems to have a purpose. We only truly know love when we experience something other.
So if we’re so loved, where does pain fit into all this? And where is God then?
All too often, we seem to misappropriate pain as punishment from God. Our view of God tends to be of crossed arms and scowled face with head shaking in disapproval. In other words, we’ve dragged Dad out of his role as Sovereign Lover, and into our human terms of relationship.
But, it seems we only truly bridge the ground of a loving relationship with others when we’re able to relate to, and even share in, their pain—just like Jesus did with us. My heart has been tenderized through pain whereas before it was hardened by rules and “right” knowing. Now, I see Dad was with me in every iteration of my pain even though I didn’t know it at the time—and I wouldn’t change a single instance as, slowly over time, it has helped me love others I’d been taught to condemn.
God isn’t distant, he laughs—and cries, with us. He’s right there in our pain and loneliness even if our heart is turned away from knowing that.
God doesn’t cause pain, but he allows it to change us—for our benefit.
And then, when those others we’ve deemed as evil and vile, when the sinner or evildoer is revealed as a friend or family member, when we see the brokenness and frailty of another that we know personally, when that sin we’ve established our platform against has a face we’re familiar with—a heart we’ve loved—then maybe we begin to understand.
Then all our correct doctrine, all our allusions of righteousness and superiority, all our beliefs of right and wrong—go right out the window, and we begin to see in some small part how Dad can love us—how he sees us even at our worst—and how he never will give up on a single one of his children—ever.
We then start to see how he would be willing to shoulder the pain of the entire world and die to prove his love for us.
Religion, politics, rituals, tradition—it all goes to the wayside when one of our beloved is broken, and all we can do is hurt with them.
And that is our Dad who loves us.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you haven’t performed well enough—that you have to earn his love.
He loves you because you’re worth loving. The universe would fall apart if you were anything less than what he made you to be—his beloved; his precious and unique treasure.
Dad sees our heart. He sees all of our brokenness. He knows you intimately. And he loves you more than the human mind can comprehend.
Don’t allow a lie to win. You are loved—now and for all eternity!