When I was younger and my mom would tell me she would always love me, I used to ask questions to clarify. What if I stopped loving you? What if I moved away? What if I did something really bad? What if I died before her? I asked these sorts of things for years, because I just couldn’t believe it! I figured I would eventually come up with a scenario where she’d say, “You know, if that happened, I guess I’d stop loving you,” but it never happened. My mom would always tell me that she’d love me forever, no matter what.
Now with kids of my own, I understand. I love them and will love them no matter what. I realized that Jakob didn’t get it a few years ago. Whenever he gets in trouble, and he’s punished, we always make sure to tell him that we love him after we’ve talked to him about whatever it was. Every single time, without fail, when we would say, “I love you,” he’d break down and cry. A few years ago, he was in trouble for lying to us, and he could see that lying to us had made us angry. He was in his room, had already been talked to about his lying, told that he was loved, started crying, was calmed down, and left to think about his choices. When I came back to talk to him again, he spoke softly to me. He asked me if I really loved him, and I told him that I did. Even though I lied to you? Yes, even though he had lied to me. I asked him if he was afraid I didn’t love him when he did wrong, and he started crying again and shook his head yes. He thought I could cease to love him based on his actions. I told him, “Jakob, I love you no matter what. Nothing will ever make me stop loving you.”
I love my sons, and they cannot change that, because they can’t stop me from being their dad and caring about them. They are stuck with my loving them, regardless of how they respond to my love. Love is not based on performance. It’s based on the character and the choice of the one who is loving. But we sometimes get the idea that love can ebb and flow, be earned and lost, because we do not really understand love. Worse yet, we take our misunderstanding and attribute it to God. We think that we can earn and lose God’s love, earn and lose His unmerited grace, win our way into His love and sin our way out of it. This is not how God works.
When we are God’s children – truly saved and in relationship with Him through Jesus Christ – we cannot sin our way out of His love. We can’t do something that would make Him want to toss us to the side and be done with us. God wants to forgive you. He wants you to turn back to Him and walk with Him. It doesn’t matter how far you have strayed or how long you’ve been away from Him. God wants you back, because He loves you no matter what.
Jesus wanted us to understand the depths of His patience, forgiveness, and love for His children. In order to do so, He gave us the story of a father and a son to consider in Luke 1. In Luke 1, we see the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24,ESV) The prodigal son represents us when we stray, and the father represents God. Though the son had done a lot wrong and strayed very far away, His father sat, waited, and watched for him. As soon as the father could see that the son had turned from his wicked lifestyle and was moving towards him, he ran to him. The dad didn’t wait for the son to get all the way back; he didn’t make his son pay retribution or earn back his love. As soon as he saw his son was heading towards him, he ran to him, hugged him, kissed him, and showed that his love for his son had never stopped.
That’s how God views you. He loves you. Maybe you’ve strayed. Maybe you’ve been away from Him for a long time. He’s waiting for you. As soon as you turn towards Him, He’ll run to you. He will embrace you. You are His child, and His love fro you has never stopped. Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise. Don’t let him convince you that you can’t go back to God, because He’s too mad at you for what you’ve done. God has always and will always love you no matter what. Just go to Him.