Learning to Love Well
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” He is broken. He is sorry. He has known how to love only in a limited way. The reach of his imagination stops at the possibility of joining the family help.
But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.
His father seems to not even hear the rehearsed speech. He quickly calls a servant and asks for clothes. He also wants a signet ring, an identifying signal of family, rushed out as well. The father’s final instruction is to throw a party, a feast in honor of his son’s return.
Here is the overwhelming truth: this is a wild love.
A love difficult to comprehend and more unsettling, a love we are unable to restrain. The flesh, the broken part of our humanity, longs to be in command, longs to be able to identify finite lines of understanding so that we can master that understanding, feel safe, and be in control. The love of this father is anything but safe and predictable.
There is an oft-quoted line from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in which Mr. Beaver is responding to young Lucy’s question about Aslan, the God-character in the story:
“He isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
God is passionately in love with you. Allow your imagination to stretch to its furthest reach, and then tell yourself you have barely passed your rooftop. There is an entire universe and beyond that can hardly contain the love that is waiting for you.
Stop trying to experience love on your own terms, and open yourself up to God. When you do, when you allow yourself to be truly known, you will discover within you a compulsion to give love away like you have never known. Love longs to be known. It is in that knowing and being known that we learn to love well.
“For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”