Unconditional Love

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Our grandson at 18 months of age showing me how to pray

Good day Friends! I pray your week and weekend went well, nestled in the assurance of God’s unconditional love for you, always!

After celebrating and focusing on the anniversary of the Reformation, I took time to reflect on the Christian church throughout the centuries. At so many levels, so many times, Christians’ actions were certainly not that of Christ. It so saddens me. How do we proclaim God’s love and his salvation above all, to all? From what I have learned about the Lord, following in his footsteps means not turning our back on the one hurting or struggling with life’s decisions; but walking with them and helping them get through the turmoil of life’s circumstances and decisions, and hopefully come to know the hope of a forgiven past, a healthy future, and a God that loves them so much that he died for them. In so many situation, Christians have not been the light that Christ so desires us to be, but judgmental critics, who have turned our backs on ones who needed the Lord the most. I’m not just talking about political/religious battles, or church leaders that go astray.

Church daniel-tsengI’m talking about the average Joe sitting in the pew, about you and me. And I’m not just talking about battles overseas and abroad on a large global or institutional level. I’m talking about Christians first showing God’s grace and mercy, instead of law, to those around you… and it starts at home.

Let’s top up our coffee’s and I will share a story…

Unconditional Love

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John 8:3-11

 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:27-28

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-17 

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Our daughter and grandson this past February

Our grandson is seven years of age. What a blessing he is to our family and to my daughter. I can’t help but think how time flies! How things change! I say this because my daughter’s pregnancy was unplanned. She was 16 when she gave birth to our Bubba.

Looking back on the time when she first realized she was pregnant, I recall it to be such a difficult time; the pain of disappointment, the fear of the unknown. When my daughter finally realized she was pregnant, at about 12 weeks along, she was terrified to tell us. I couldn’t imagine the turmoil and fear that my poor girl was enduring.

It all came out that one evening, when I was giving her a good night embrace. She just broke down and began to cry, full out sob. I couldn’t understand the reason behind this full-on, grief-stricken sob. She held me so tight, and I her. Finally, I asked the question, “Are you pregnant?” It was the only thing I could think of that would bring on such a tormented cry. As she shook her head in agreement, my heart sank. In one flash second, her life and the dreams I envisioned for my teenaged daughter flashed in my mind. I cried. I cried with her. I cried for her; for her future, her baby, the challenges that would come from trying to be a Mom while still trying to just finish high school let alone become an established adult and productive member of society, and then the relational concerns- well, they would be a whole other ball of aches and pains. Not to mention that she knew better. She knew of God’s desire and sanctity of sexual relations. She knew the expectations and boundaries that God’s law provided. She knew we’d be disappointed. We held each other and we cried!

Finally, after a few minutes had passed, although it seemed like an eternity, I said that we needed to tell Dad. Again, the gaols of tears came, along with the words, “…but Mom, Daddy will hate me FOREVER…” I cried at knowing the depth of pain and remorse my daughter was feeling. Although I did not know how my husband would react, I assured her without a doubt saying, “Daddy and I will always love you with all our heart.” So together we walked into my bedroom where my husband had already hunkered down, and interrupted his quiet slumber with the words, “Honey, we have something to tell you.” As he rolled over to face us, our daughter shared, “Daddy, I’m pregnant.” With that, he rolled back over and there was silence; complete and utter silence. After a couple moments, when I realized nothing was going to be said – no storm of heat-of-the-moment words, I encouraged our daughter to head off to bed, assuring her that we all just needed a little time to process all that this means.

Despite our initial reactions, I learned through the pregnancy, birth, and life of our grandson that as parents, we train our children in the way they should go, but when they fall we have the opportunity and privilege to be bearers of God’s unconditional love. God’s love for them, for you, for me, is greater than the disappointment or guilt of any sin they, we, may commit. That does not mean we become enablers to permit sin to continue to occur; that may be where tough love comes in. However, all I know from getting to where we are is that, in her fear and sorrow and remorse to us and her Lord, the Lord worked all things for her good, for our good. Our reaction was just as important as her situation. It drew her closer to Him. And even when we do not know why He permits certain things to occur or we are faced with the consequences of our own disobedient actions, we can still turn to the Lord for help and guidance, and know He is still walking with us on our journey and has our future in His hands.

Thy Will Be DoneNow eight years after that night of tears and fears, I look upon the dedicated Mom my daughter is and the life she has created by putting herself in God’s hands. With high school and college diplomas, two university degrees, a loving husband, amazing son, and the love and grace of God, our daughter faced each step with assurance that she was not alone. Don’t get me wrong; it was hard work, but the Lord set her heart on being the best Mom she could be for her son, and we were behind her 100 percent. Not only were we with her, but so was the Lord. It was a time that brought all of us to seek God, his will, and his guidance. Together we learned that even in the midst of the deepest pain and disappointment, there is forgiveness, healing, and unconditional support and love. Through it all, our daughter has intimately come to know, love, and trust her Lord to guide her and her family’s life journey.

I give thanks to our Lord for the blessing of our precious grandson and the Lord’s unconditional love for my daughter, my grandson and us. I have come to fully trust that our Great God does work all things for the good of those who love Him, and that love, grace and forgiveness trumps wrath and judgement. So if you are clinging to despair or feeling ashamed, take it to the Lord. Repent of it and let the Lord show you His grace, forgiveness, peace, and unconditional love.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you are a merciful God. Our sins are no secret to you. Give us strength to lift them up to you in repentance. Grant us your peace, your strength and your courage to make any changes in our lives or endure any consequences we may need to endure because of our sinful actions. Also, be with those souls weighed down by the heaviness of sin and guilt.  Put people in their lives to show them your love, to help rescue them from such torment, and to find peace and rest in your love and mercy. If I am to be one such person, Help me to be whom you need to be for them.   In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Reflection:

  1. Are you clinging to a sin but are too ashamed to tell those you love? Shame and despair are heavy weights. Living in the darkness of sinful secrecy is not what God desires for you. Repent of it to the Lord, then to your loved ones with whom it may involve. Pray beforehand that God stirs their hearts to be open to hearing you and that God guide their actions and responses. Then share it and find strength in knowing that you are not alone to make the necessary changes to walk in accordance with God’s will.
  2. OR Are you the recipient of news where it would be much easier to judge and condemn, than walk alongside a loved one and express unconditional love. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Remember, He loves that person too. He loves them much more than any sin they could commit. Lift the person and their situation up to the Lord. Ask Him to guide you to be the voice and arms that He would have you be. He will provide the opportunities to display His love and grace and forgiveness.
  3. In general, reflect on what your initial responses have been in such situations; is it easier to express judgement or grace; disengagement or empathy? Take time to pray for dependency and strength in the Lord to face such situations in His love and patience, grace and forgiveness, wisdom and peace.

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