Through the prophet Hosea, God revealed the amazing nature of His relentless love for humanity: He chooses to love us even though it would be much smarter to avoid us, and He commits to keep on loving us even when He knows He’s going to get hurt.
A few posts back (entitled “Being Loved”) I told the story of how I once felt loved when I knew I had won the affection of my wife’s heart. In that post I called that kind of love “situational love.” So let me share with you a very different scene from my life. It was early in the morning after yet another difficult night with yet another sleepless child. There was just something about our kids that made them sleep-challenged in their first years of life, and this produced far too much sleep-deprivation. On that night my child could not stop crying as I tried to rock them to sleep. As my frustration grew I became more and more tense, and more angry with my helpless child in my arms – so tense and angry that the volatility of my emotions scared me. In the morning I admitted my shame to Aleta, “Hon, last night I didn’t like what I saw in myself. I am the world’s worst man and the world’s worst father.” Instead of rejecting me as a failure and a jerk she said, “Andy, I love you. Yes, we need to be very careful not to lose our temper, and I want you to get me if you ever get to that point again, but that’s not who I know you to be. You are not the world’s worst father, you’re a great dad!”
I once believed I was experiencing the fullness of real love in cool moments like the time Aleta called me at camp many years before (see the story in blog post “Being Loved”), but the truth was this painful moment which revealed all the reasons I should be avoided was the scene where I really experienced the fullness of love. Being loved with that quality of relentless loves was an incredible experience! Yet in my observation of human nature we actually prefer situational love over relentless love because we like to think we bring something to the table that earns us love. We really can’t stand the idea of being loved in the face of all the evidence that we really shouldn’t. We like situational love because it appeals to our pride.
So, ask yourself an important question – How do I want to be loved? Do you want to be loved situationally for what you’ve done to win that love, or do you want to be loved relentlessly in the face of all the evidence that you really should not be loved at all?