Years ago, when I was in seminary, I came home from class to change clothes for my security job. I walked in looking for my children. I wanted to make sure I kissed everybody goodbye since they would all be asleep when I got home. I looked outside and didn’t see them. My son Cody, aged four at the time, rode up on his bike. I hugged him and asked him, “Where are your sisters?” He shrugged his shoulders. I went inside and informed their mother that I couldn’t see the girls anywhere. I called out to them. The more I did this, the darker the thoughts in my mind were becoming. I was panicking. The neighbors heard my yelling and joined the search. I was desperately trying to find them and was terrified that they may have been taken, or that they fell and were too hurt to hear the cries of their Daddy! Almost the entire complex was looking for my two babies.
After what seemed like an eternity, I finally heard the four words I had been frantically praying for, “Todd, we found them!” My very first thought at that moment was, “I am going to wear them out for scaring us like that.” I’m their father, and I need to punish them, right? They deserved it, right? When I got back to our doorstep and saw Katie and Jenna, I felt heavy tears forming in my eyes. Katie was looking at me with her bottom lip poked out, and Jenna was already crying. They knew they were in trouble. In that moment, I dropped to my knees and picked them both up and lavished hugs and kisses upon my precious daughters, who were lost and then found. I never spanked them. Maybe they had it coming, or maybe they didn’t. I was just so happy to have them back and that was all that mattered to me. Katie and Jenna did what kids do. They wandered off and we found them. Their faces told me they knew what they had done. They had walked over to a playground that was out of our immediate sight. Just two little girls, doing what little girls do. I could never have spanked them. My love for them outweighed the need for punishment. To this day, whenever I look at any of my children, there is nothing in all the universe that could make me not love them completely.
God does this for us, my friends, but on a cosmic level. When we are wandering lost or feeling bad about things we have done, God drops to his knees and lavishes us with the love and grace that only he can offer. He is not a cruel step-dad waiting for us to blow it so he can unleash his ‘justified” wrath upon us. He’s not a father who loves beer more than you. He is not cold parent who kicks you out of his house because you come out. He is an adoring parent who just wants all his kids with him all the time. If we wander off, he pursues with a divine passion the none of us could even fathom! HE DOES NOT PUNISH US!
That is his heart, my friends. That is who he is and what he does. He loves us. Completely. Eternally. Unconditionally. Just because he chooses to and for no other reason. And it is sufficient. It’s enough! There is nothing more to be done. Our connection to the divine is unbroken. That is how God wants it. It is how he chooses to connect with us. Doing so is his choice, and always will be. Don’t worry, you won’t ever make him change his mind. God’s love for humanity has never waivered or diminished for any reason. Do your worst. You will still find God loving and adoring you without condition or restriction. We call that grace…amazing grace!