The following devotion is a kind of conversation between my father and me. We were discussing the impact of the Heavenly Father’s endless love demonstrated in Jesus Christ and how this affects our lives. The daughter’s response is a bit more reflective on the experiences and memories of the love of her parents, while the father’s response focuses more on the theological perspective of this love.
Torn Between Love and Frustration
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Father Response: In the preceding passage Paul focuses on human expressions of love in daily life. He calls to our attention that actions, no matter how grand and noble, are empty gestures of human endeavor. When suffused with human love however, actions which otherwise would be sterile and empty, though helpful in meeting human need, are transformed to serve not only physical need but also build up individuals for readily dealing with the stress and strain of daily life.
Daughter Response: When I walked away from the faith, I still felt my parents’ love. I knew deep in my heart that both of my parents loved me very much. When I became old enough, I moved away from home. I believed that the separation from them would heal the disappointment that I felt I was to them. Despite the distance, the feelings remained. Though we were separated by thousands of miles, my parent’s love continued to show through the cards they sent me on Christian holidays, phone calls and notes in the mail that always ended with “I love you”. The little gift packages my mom sent throughout the year and visits from my parents kept the physical bond of love alive.
Psalm 26:3 ESV
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.
Psalm 31:7 ESV
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,
Father Response: The kind of love mentioned before has its source in that of our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us with an endless love in his life, death, and resurrection, so that we can love. Ultimately our love has its source in the love of heavenly Father manifested in Jesus Christ, his Son, and communicated to us by the Holy Spirit in the proclamation of the word and the administration of the Lord’s Supper.
When I look back, I did not fully understand how powerful the love of the heavenly Father is in enabling me to love my wife and children. As I have gained insight into the reality of his overpowering love however, I have come to recognize its tremendous relevance to my relationship with my children, some of whom at the present time are not members of the church.
Daughter Response: I knew I was hurting my parent’s by my lifestyle. But, the faith at this time was nothing to me. I knew there was a God, but I was not sure who he was and if he was just the God of many religions and beliefs. I still had a sense of who he was because of the way I was raised in the faith. Every time I had contact with my parents, the truth of who God truly is was shared with me. My parent’s never gave up on me but over the years their love shown like a beacon of light. Something about the love they showed me kept me wanting to stay in touch with them. Their love drew me like a magnet.
Ah Ha Moment Awakened
Psalm 86:12-13 ESV
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
Father Response: The psalmist praises the Lord God from the bottom of his heart because of his faithful love. He demonstrated this love by delivering his life from death. In this deliverance he recognized the hand of the Lord his God. For us today it is so easy given our culture to see only the surface of reality and forget that the creator God is in charge, whose goal is that sinners repent and live. Everything he does is for this purpose. When we view life and our daily experience this way, we are open for his grace through Christ and join the psalmist to praise the heavenly Father with our whole heart.
Daughter Response: When I hurt my back, my active lifestyle came to a halt. Forced to slow down, I stopped to think and then heard that still small voice telling me it was time to change. At the time I did not realize that this was the voice of the Holy Spirit, inviting me to come back to the faith. The voice was right and I listened. I pulled out my confirmation Bible, the one my parent’s had sent me perhaps years before. I anxiously opened the book, pouring through the pages looking for answers. I did this each day and felt a sense of peace come over me as I read the words of truth. I was reminded of how my life had been before I believed the lies of the world. The love my parents and Christ had for me overwhelmed me. I was beginning to understand.
Psalm 40:15-16 ESV
Let those be appalled because of their shame, who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
Father Response: It is possible to love life on the basis of our human perspective and be closed to the Lord’s point of view. When this happens, we perceive others as competitors, challengers, even enemies. This is the point the psalmist makes. People around him consider his difficulties in life as judgment on his “perverted” life style. So they say, “Aha, Aha!” You had it coming. Again those who seek the Lord rejoice in his goodness. Those who experience his salvation, say continually, “Great is the Lord!” These are the two realities in life. When we cut ourselves off from the Lord and live life focused on ourselves, we see all others as competitors or even enemies. When our life by the power of the Holy Spirit is focused on the Lord, others become our fellow creatures and more intimately our brothers and sisters in the faith. We will together with all of the heavenly Father’s creation rejoice in his grace and goodness.
Daughter Response: When I think back, I am filled with a sense of wonderment by my parent’s acts of love toward me when I was away from the faith. The love they shared with me reminded me of our family life together. I always had warm memories as a child growing up in a Christ centered home. In my family’s case (so many situations are different), I believe these memories were part of the reason I felt welcome back. I was loved and felt an endless love from my mom and dad.