For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39
The first time I held my now-high school aged son in my arms was a bit awkward – I hadn’t had much newborn-holding experience in the years before he was born. I was, quite frankly, afraid I’d drop him, or hold him . . . I don’t know . . . weirdly in some way. (As if there’s One True Way to hold your child!) (Hmm . . . maybe there is – it’s been a while since I’ve held a newborn.) But hold him I finally did (after hours of watching my wife slowly dive into her labor pains, then work to give birth, then finally give birth, only to have them both carted away for more tests), and, after the initial awkwardness passed, continued to hold him more and more. (I would find, in the months to come, that holding him came much more often than I initially anticipated, and not all of that holding came during my approved daylight-scheduled holding time!)
As I continued to grow in my son-holding skills, a perambulating thought started to meander its way through the recesses of my heart and soul (gotta love vocabulary) – I loved my son. And more than that, I was growing more and more in love with my son as the days passed. It started to occur to me that there would never be anything this child could ever do to make me stop loving him.
Was this true? Would the answer to all of my son’s tests and trials and tribulations be love? What about . . . back talk? Disobedience? Willful and wanton destruction of my collectible trading cards? Assault to the face with a deadly plastic slide? Spilled antibiotics? Desire to spend less time with me and more with friends? And what about much, much later on? Would a crashed car in the middle of the night make me love him less? Seeing friends . . . or . . . girlfriends that I didn’t approve of? Leaving our faith? Living in a way contradictory to my faith?
The more I thought about it, the more I imagined scenarios, the more I tried to see myself not loving my son . . . the more I came to realize that I could only ever love him. Be disappointed in his choices? Yes. Be upset with him over things said/done or not said/not done? Yes. Try to guide him in life, no matter his age. Of course.
But stop loving him? Never.
Then it hit me: in my own way, I was mirroring the love God has for all of creation and for each individual part of that creation. God can’t help but love – our theology tells us that. But I think it’s more than that – God is love (insofar as God is anything one specific thing), and God instinctively and irrevocably pours that love into every iota of his creation. If my capacity to love was expanded first by my wife and then by my son, try to imagine how expansive God’s love must be after a billion billion billion billion moments of creation!
It boggles the mind.
And that’s why that verse from the book of Romans (in the New Testament of the Christian Bible) resonates so deeply with me – the God of all creation loves me. And there is nothing . . . nothing that will ever stop that love. Nothing I say or do. Nothing I don’t say or do. No action of mine can ever diminish the perfect and timeless love of the God who is love.
Does God wish we would sin less? Of course. Does God want us to strive to be more loving in our actions towards others? Yes. Is God disappointed when our life choices don’t quite live up to our title as his saints? Yes.
But will God ever stop loving any of us? Never.
Blessings & Peace,