Updated: Jan 31
Her wavy curls bounced as she ran. At four years old, the backyard was the place where castles stood and where dragons were slayed. All the adventurous and magical things her little mind could imagine happened there. The sunlight brought out the golden strands in her hair and she felt the grass tickle her feet as she skipped and danced under the trees. She hummed a soft tune and looked up at the bright blue sky with big, white, puffy clouds and she smiled. She knew God had painted the sky just for her. She enjoyed finding fun shapes in the clouds. She loved seeing the wisps of white against the blue sky and how the rays of the sun broke through the shade of the trees. All the colors shined. All the birds sang.
She had never felt so loved.
Thirty years later, she shielded her eyes from the beaming sun as she made her way to her car. She had shoved her shoulder length hair into a tight knot at the base of her neck in an effort to get some relief from the heat but she still felt the muggy misery of summer. Her heels clicked against the sidewalk. She barely noticed the beautiful clouds anymore. She fumbled for her keys, got into her car and carefully pulled out onto the highway. Her heart was numb, her head was pounding and her feet ached from the day. She blared music as she drove to her empty house trying to swallow the deep loneliness she felt. She wished and hoped and reminisced but she just didn't feel loved at all. Not anymore.
When a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is searching for God and His love. When a woman is staggering out the door of a bar, what she's really thirsty for is God and His love. When we scream at the sky or soak our pillow in tears, we are yearning for the kind of love that can liberate us from our addictions, our sorrows and our past failures. I'm prone to doubt the love of God. I'm prone to shield my eyes instead of basking in each morning's merciful beauty.
There is a reason Jesus tells us to "Come as a little child" (Matthew 18:3). Children believe. Children embrace the impossible, the whimsical and the beautiful much quicker than adults do. As a little girl, I never doubted that God hand painted the sky just for me each day. I never entertained the thought that I was not deeply loved and cherished by my Creator. But something happened as I grew out of childlike innocence and saw the world for what it is. I became skeptical and unsure. When a human being failed me, I began to doubt the only One who never had. When I felt unwanted by people, I found myself believing the same applies to my Maker.
We all do it. We ask where love is. We ask what love is. We read in the Bible that God is love but when the only love we see around us is flawed, we wonder if God's love might be flawed too. Like shadows filling the deep corners of our hearts, we question where God is and even IF God is.
"Does He love me?" we ask. "Does He really love me?"
John exclaimed "What manner of love the Father has for us that we should be called the children of God!" (1 John 3:1.) Have you pondered what kind of love John was talking about? I have. And the longer I ponder, the more amazing His love is to me. The longer I gaze at the Person of Jesus, the more I believe that no one, aside from the crucified Christ, could love me the way I long to be loved.
What kind of love goes to Calvary? What kind of love leaves heaven's throne to crawl into a prison cell to pull another out? What kind of love would rather suffer torture and imminent death than to be without the ones He loves?
Is there not love in His incarnation, His crucifixion, His ascension and in His promised return?
You likely don't feel like the little girl you once were. You have probably come face to face with the darkness of depression and the cruelty of other people. You may have witnessed church splits and abusive church leadership, you may have heard false teaching and watched Scripture be mishandled. You may have been mistreated in the worst way, and you may have ran from God because you don't believe He cares more than people do.
But He does.
His is a love that bends down and comforts the guilty and offers healing to the humiliated.
His is a love that restored sight to the blind so they could see Him, that opened the ears of the deaf so they could hear Him and that made the lame rise up so they could follow Him.
His is a love that allowed the prodigal son to leave and squander his inheritance. And His is a love that welcomed him home.
His is a love that walks into all our sin-scarred, dysfunctional mess and offers hope.
His is a love that allowed John the Baptist to doubt, Peter to deny, Jonah to run, David to murder and Abraham to be faithless.
It's a love that allows us to approach the Almighty, a grace that lets us wrestle in the dark of night and a patience that bears with all our doubts and rebellion.
His love is unmeasured, untamed and unbreakable.
It's the kind of love that every human heart searches for but can only find when we look up.
The morally fallen world can break down all around us but, to experience the wonders of God's love, we must come as a child. May you dance and twirl and sing of His love because, rest assured, He is singing over you.