Here is the thing about love. It’s really of no value unless it is received. And it can’t be received well if you put all sorts of qualifications and expectations on it. Continuing my journey of learning about steadfast love the words surrender, freedom and love just keep coming up.
I re-read the definition of “hesed” or steadfast love from Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. Part of it says, “The word refers primarily to a mutual and reciprocal rights and obligations between parties of a relationship (especially Yaweh and Israel).” Okay that just sounds very business-like, not personal, warm or fuzzy at all. But then I continued reading “But hesed is not only a matter of obligation; it is also of generosity. It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. The weaker party seeks the protection and blessing of the patron and protector, but he may not lay absolute claim to it. The stronger party remains committed to his promise, but retains his freedom, especially in regard to the manner in which he will implement those promises. Hesed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.” (emphasis mine) God’s love, His steadfast love (hesed) towards us is not limited to the way we think love should look. It is personal and who could be more personal than the God who created each of us? He knew us before anyone else knew us. Psalm 139 says He “knit us together” in our mother’s womb. Before we were actually born into this world our Creator God knew us. He knows our “love language”. He knows our tender spots, our bruises, our scars. He also knows our joys, our passions, our people. God’s love is offered to everyone but we have to choose to accept it. And that is all we have to do, accept it.
It sounds so easy. We cannot earn it in any way. We cannot educate ourselves enough. We cannot serve enough. We cannot earn enough money. We cannot give enough money. We just have to choose to receive it.
Again it sounds so easy but speaking for myself and many I’ve lived my life with, it just is not that easy. It is simple as in, not complicated. It is a gift. But our hearts have been hurt, our lives interrupted by trouble and we just do not believe that we can have love without earning it. Possibly harder yet is that we think we do not deserve God’s love because of all the things we have done or not done, felt or not felt.
I’ve seen this played out in my own life with my relationship with my father. He is a quiet, kind man. He consistently provided for me and my family my whole life. He had a goal of buying the farm we lived on and passing it on to my brother and I. He achieved his goal of purchasing his farm and when the Lord calls him home it will be passed on to my brother’s family and myself. While he doesn’t assert himself often, he has repeatedly voiced his desire for this to happen. While we were caring for my mother with dementia there came a time when we needed to move her to a care facility. Dad’s first concern was not how to pay for that but how could we pay for that and keep the farm for us, the next generation.
The farm is not big in today’s standards. It will not jump me or my brother’s family into a whole new tax bracket. Neither of us have ever planned our life counting on the income from owning the farm we grew up on. But this is one of the biggest ways our Dad is showing his love for us. It is important to him. He has never been one to share his wisdom or even his opinions voluntarily. You have to ask. No actually you have to insist that he tell you what he thinks on most topics if you want to know. He is not an outwardly affectionate man, although that has changed a bit in these later years. Hugs and hearing the words “I love you” did not come frequently in my house as I grew up. My dad showed his love by being there day after day. He did the work, no matter what, to provide for our family. He drove me to ball practice early in the mornings before doing chores. He picked me up after music performances after he finished chores. He paid for and drove me to piano lessons for years. He taught me to work and to do what I said I would do.
Today at the age of 92 he prays for me daily. He loves it when we come to visit but he always tells us that he knows we are busy making a living and tending to our now grown kids and grandkids. He tells me that they come first. He carries the memories of my mother in his heart and shares with me frequently how much he misses her. He shows me “hesed” love. He is steadfast in his love for me. He shows it freely in his way to me. I sigh deeply as I write this next line. I have not always received his love well. There have been times I thought his love for me needed to be shown by being more assertive. Sometimes I wanted more spoken words of encouragement or a high five or a hug. It’s taken me over 50 years to realize the depth of my father’s love for me. That is sad. I wasted a lot of time wishing it was different instead of receiving and appreciating all the love I have.
No more. I am learning to watch for and accept the love in my life. I pray that God will open the eyes of my heart so I will “see” love given to me as it is happening. I am learning to surrender to the love that is extended to me. I learning to take it in and relish it. Love can show up in a limitless number of ways because our God is not limited by our expectations. Just a couple of days ago my husband showed me love by taking my dad to a medical appointment. It needed done but my work schedule was getting in the way. My dad showed me love by allowing that to happen. There was a day when he would have said no to my husband taking time off of work to help dad. He never wants to inconvenience anyone. This time he knew it was more helpful, more loving to let it happen. I appreciate what both of them did more than they know. (Yes, I did tell them) There other examples of love I’m noticing these days, some are pretty obvious but others are more subtle. How have you noticed love in your daily life recently?
This has become an enjoyable challenge. Will you join me? Will you take your limits of what love should look like in your life and watch for how it is really showing up? Share your comments below or on Facebook. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have thoughts or questions you’d like to talk about privately.