I was walking along the beach before lunch. My infant daughter lay nestled comfortably asleep against my chest, secure in the carrier, supported and snug. I looked at her face and saw peace there. The ocean waves roared loudly in preparation for an upcoming storm, yet she slept on with sweet dreams no doubt playing in her infant mind.
As I walked along the shore, feet sinking into the wet sand, I too felt a peace. It surrounded me like a glove, and the lyrics of How He Loves Us played softly in my own mind.
He is jealous for me. Love like a hurricane, I am a tree. Bending beneathe the weight of His wind and mercy.
The beach always did that to me. As soon as I glimpsed the bright blue ocean I felt peace. I felt awe. I felt love. Every time I looked out across the expanse of the sea’s horizon I was reminded of God’s love for me.
God’s love is unlike anything we know, really. It’s unlike anything we’ve been shown before. Some human beings are never shown even a fraction of love the way God intends it to me.
Some of us see love from the example of an absent parent figure, perhaps a father who left and didn’t come back.
Some of us see love through the circumstances of a spouse who comes home and says, “I’m not happy. I just don’t love you anymore.”
Many will see love displayed by others only when it’s convenient for them. They’ll see love as a “what do I get out of this” situation.
Sometimes you see love fade.
Sometimes you see love that changes based on circumstances.
You’re not the person I married.
You’re too fat.
You lost your job.
I’m not strong enough to stay with you through your struggle with addiction.
Or mental illness.
Many times we’re given an image of love that is offered when it’s easy, or perhaps when it’s reciprocated without problem or delay.
We see love based on physical attraction, stability, and a picture perfect life without conflict. Then when the world turns upside down it all falls apart.
We come to understand as humans that love isn’t always unconditional. It’s definitely not forever. And it comes with a price tag or expectations attached.
But God’s love is like looking out across the ocean from the shoreline. There is no end in sight.
God’s love is like looking past the tumultuous, crashing waves that hit the shore to the calm sheet of brilliant blue that pairs itself with the sky. No matter the circumstances that come your way, God is constant. His love is the calm clarity in your chaotic circumstances.
God loves us for who we are, not who we can be for Him. He loves us despite our pant’s size, despite the lies we tell, or the many, many mistakes we make.
Every time I come back to the beach the ocean is still there. Despite everything and anything, when I walk out to the sand there it is. Unchanged.
God’s love is constant. Circumstances don’t make Him love us less. His love never fades. It doesn’t even get drab over time. He finds us as lovely, intriguing, and brilliant as the day He first formed us. And if anything, He only loves us more.
His love is a sacrificial love. It’s a love that says you’re worth dying for even if you don’t deserve it. Especially then.
Even if you don’t acknowledge it. Exceptionally then.
God’s love is unlike anything we have ever known, or ever been shown, and I guess that’s why it’s so hard to believe sometimes. As children of God we’re wired to love that way, but as humans we never see it practiced to that degree. So when God says come, we say, “are you sure? As I am, really?!”
To which He replies, yes, because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you (Isaiah 43:4).
We ask, “but what about my faults and failures?”
And He says, The steadfast love I have never ceases; my mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is my faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
“But I’m a mess, Lord!”
He smiles and replies, It’s ok. I heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).
So when we think of what we know about love we have to keep in mind that it’s only a fraction of what there is. The love we’ve been shown in this life is only a half reflection of what there can be. The truth is we’re just trying to comprehend the width and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Like the view of the ocean, we can’t even see the end of God’s love. We can’t even fathom. It’s such a big, blue ocean He has for us. So deep, so wide. And the truth is that it’s all there for you and me. He doesn’t just give a portion, but rather He gives us all of it.
And that’s how God’s love is different.