We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
I didn’t see it coming. I was alone. Then there was a woman. And now a full on women’s ministry! Three daughters in, I am taken back by the living interpretation of 1 John 4:19 that is my family. I have had a front row seat to these ‘parables’ dressed in pink that has helped me to comprehend the love that our heavenly Father has for me.
One of the first observations that I made as a father was that children are no respecters of time or space. Having a quiet dinner for two? Enjoying a meaningful conversation? Dreaming of an uninterrupted night of rest? Ok, well dream on! Because suddenly you are jolted awake by an unusually high pitched song coming out of those inexhaustible little vocal chords, “FEED ME!” Is the name of the tune, and you spring up to make the music stop! “CLOTHE ME!” The second verse comes to a relieving close as you swaddle them for the third time that night. And then… they poop. And then they scream. And then they are hungry again so they scream some more. And day after day the parable resounds: Babies are HELPLESS! They are utterly dependent upon the one who cares for them. These little ones brought NOTHING to the table. They were takers. They had absolutely no ability to do anything but receive. This isn’t surprising, but something did take me off guard: Through the sleepless nights and exhausting days, through the pouring out over and over again without any return, something remained steady and certain: I deeply loved my children in all of it. When Need Turns to Want
As time progressed, I witnessed the most amazing transformation in my babies! I saw them go from, “I need food” to, “I need YOU to feed me.” I saw them go from, “I need to be held” to, “I need YOU to hold me.” They began to reach out for me, notice when I left the room, and squirm in discontentment when they were in someone else’s arms. What was happening?!!! I wasn’t really keeping track of the thousands of hours of deposits that I was making in their little lives, because I loved making those deposits. And somewhere in the mix something became clear: my children no longer just needed me, they wanted me.
And I got a front row seat to my girls falling in love with their daddy. The Return
All of my daughters are under 10 years of age. They still somehow refuse to let me sleep. They don’t help with the mortgage. They don’t prepare any meals, or even take out the trash… Tell me, what kind of return is worth the last decade of investment! What am I getting out of the deal?!!! Olive’s love. Lilly’s love. Emma’s love.
What a return! It’s worth more than all the kingdoms in the world! The genuine, unhindered love of your children. Isn’t it funny that Jesus condensed all of the Law and the Prophets in to one thing, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mathew 22:37).
What a return for the Father, and I understand now having been one! He doesn’t ask for all of our accomplishments and accolades, but simply our love and devotion! Clean, Fed, and Clothed
I didn’t do it perfectly, but because I loved those girls, they began to love me in return. In the same way, Christ's great love for us is the fuel by which His Spirit produces in us a great affection for Him. I love Jesus, because He first loved me. His Mercy drew me in, His kindness wooed my heart. I was cold, hungry, and in need of being cleaned up. And in my song of desperation and sin, Jesus loved me. He heard my cry! He pulled me close and washed me clean of all of my refuse and sin (Heb 10:22). In His kindness, He fed me the richest of foods (Is 55:1-2). He clothed my nakedness with white garments (Rev 3:18).
Brothers and sisters, we stand, clean, fed, and clothed today in Christ! Perfectly loved! So we sing, "Jesus we Love you, Oh how we love You, You are the One our hearts adore."