The scent of fresh honeysuckle filled my nose, touching my soul with joy and thankfulness. Kneeling next to my son, I said, “Hey Theo, can you smell the honeysuckle?” All at once, he bent his knees, stuck his nose to the white petals, and sniffed as hard as he could. Tears glistened in my eyes and I kissed his nearly bald head and said, “I love you, Bug.” Giggling, he ran across the yard to keep exploring.
I didn’t desire nor did I expect an “I love you mama” in return—he has few words to offer right now and the ones in that phrase aren’t among them. Still, I probably declare that I love him at least twenty times each day. My love for that boy is deep and abiding. I can’t help but want him to know how very loved he is.
But I know there’s a greater love than a parent’s love for their child. Can you believe that God, our Father, loves us not because of anything we can offer back to him but because he created us and adopted us as his children? My love will fail my son. God’s love for us is unconditional, steadfast, abounding, unfathomable, eternal, faithful, unchanging. Nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:31-39). Because his love isn’t based on circumstances, how much we love him, our obedience, or anything else on this earth. He has poured out his love on us on the basis of his Son. And he loves us more deeply than we could ever love our own children.
Yet, we doubt his love, don’t we? We see our sin and our internal struggles, hidden to everyone but God, and instead of bowing in humility and awe, we cower in suspicion. Did God really say we’re forgiven through his Son? Did he really cleanse me from all my sin, even this?
Oh Lord, forgive me. I have doubted your word and questioned not your ability but your willingness to reach my heart with your grace. But you tell me the old old story once again. You say my sins are forgiven. You beckon my eyes to the cross where your Son died my death, taking every last sinful thought or deed upon himself. This truth is the declaration of your love for me. I believe Lord, help my unbelief.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Just as I want my sweet Theo to know I love him, God wants us to bask in his love for us too. I can’t fathom it, but I’m choosing to believe it.