At the beginning of this coming year, we will begin a study in our mid-week class that is rooted in part by a book by Willard Tate entitled, Learning to Love. In that book there is a chapter called Experiencing God’s Love, a chapter that has truly caused me to ponder my understanding of God’s love for me. Willard Tate writes, “The need to love and be loved is the simplest of all human wants.” What do you think about that? There was a study that revealed that one of the top three things humans desire is belonging. As one person said, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong.” Maybe this is in part why the Holy Spirit had Paul pen these words, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you…” the ability to “comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-13, 18-19). God wants us to grasp His steadfast love for us, a love that never wavers.
And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off,
his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
- W. Howe writes, “Nothing is wonderful when you get used to it.” Sometimes, as we read our bibles, the familiarity of the verses that once grabbed our attention, suddenly pass by with little impact. For me, the parables kind of get that way; you know, the same old story: So it was with the parable of the prodigal son. We know the story…right. Son is given, son squanders, son returns, the other son get mad and everyone is happy. Yet, this past week as this parable was discussed in light of our focus on love, God’s love for us, I was reminded anew of how precious the son was to the father. Try to visualize God running to you, knowing as He does, of all the wrongs you have done! Imagine His arms embracing you and the warmth of His presence touching you neck. Then, unexpectedly, the kiss on the cheek welcoming you back home. This is the steadfast love of God.
But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him,
and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.
The prodigal son knew his worth; that is, unworthy to “be called his son” (Luke 15:19, 21), or so he thought. Now he experiences a love that looks beyond the visible, the dirt and humility of days past. He is not worthy of such love, so the older brother thought, and he would be right, for all you need to do is glance back in time. Yet, he was worth the father’s love, “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found” (Luke 15:32). That is the love God has for us…for me. A love that runs to us, embraces us, provides for us and rejoices with us, knowing we have come home. Thank You Lord for loving me.