Have you heard the one about the elderly woman who heard her friends’ husbands over the years tell them how much they loved them? Oh! How she longed for her husband to do the same. To regale her with the depth and breadth of his enduring love. But…nothing. Finally, as they were sitting out on the porch one morning, she turned to him and said as sweetly as she could, “WHY don’t you ever say you love me??”
He turned wide, rheumy eyes to her and shrugged. “I told you I loved you on our wedding day.”
Now she was the one with wide eyes. “That was sixty-five years ago!”
He patted her hand. “And if it had ever changed, I’d have let you know.”
Now, I’m not advocating that kind of thing in marriage. Please, say you love each other. Regularly. But I confess I’m a bit stymied when we children of the living God seem to need Him to tell us, again, that He loves us. Or, more to the point, to prove to us in one way or another that He does. We look for “signs.” For answers to prayers. For open doors, closed doors, doors left ajar. For any hint from “on high” that He really and truly loves us. And I can’t help wondering…
Do we think God has changed His mind about loving us? Scripture says that’s impossible. Do we think He was just kidding? That whole offering-His-only-Son-as-a-sacrifice-to-restore-us-to-Him thing seems pretty serious to me. Do we think what we do or think or say will suddenly reveal to Him who we really are and He’ll back away from us like we’re some kind of slug slime? (Listen, I find that every morning on my outdoor carpeting. That’s some kind of disgusting! Just sayin’.) Um, nope. Not gonna happen. He knows everything about us and He STILL sent His Son for us. For me. For you. For the person you are convinced has no possible redeeming qualities.
For every one of us.
I know my thinking tends to be somewhat simplistic, but hey, didn’t Jesus tell us to come to Him as little children? Anyway, God…the one TRUE God…created us to have fellowship with Him. With. Him. He breathed His spirit into us, and we became living souls. But He didn’t make us into little robots that praised and loved Him without thought. He gave us a will of our own and the freedom to use it for good, bad, or indifferent. And even when we waltz down a wrong path where He won’t go with us, when we walk in defiance or rebellion or anger or whatever spurs us away from Him, His love for us? Still there. His Son’s death on the cross? Still for us. And He will, ever and always, welcome us back if we come. You know, the whole prodigal thing. It’s for us, folks. No condemnation. No recriminations. Just Par-TAY! My child has come home! Yes, yes, there are consequences to our actions. Some devastating. But God’s there, too, with us in the pain and hard work of restoration. And His love? You guessed it! Still there. Still endless.
THIS, my friends, is the love He showers on us. The love that we can count on. The love that we as writers are asked to share through our words, our stories, our creations. This is the measureless love we not only get to experience, but we have the honor—no, the responsibility–to show to others in new and powerful ways.
“But hasn’t everything about it already been written?” you ask. “And far better than I ever could?”
Well, let me answer that with another story. You probably know it, about the blind men taken into a room with an elephant, who were then asked to describe the animal? Each man described what he experienced of the elephant—the leg, the tusk, the tail, and so on. But all they shared were glimpses—pieces, if you will—of the impressive whole that was an elephant. Their experiences were limited.
No matter who else has written about God’s love, or how they’ve written about it, we’re all, in one way or another, blind. We know of God what we know of God. But to gain a true picture of our marvelous, amazing, terrifying, jealous, loving, just, righteous, all-powerful, grace-steeped, tender, angry, bold, speaks-in-the-whisper God? That takes everyone one of us, sharing our part. Our experience. And you and I get to do that through the God-breathed gift of words.
Yet more proof that He loves us.
And that will never, ever change.