8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
very patient, and full of faithful love.
9 God won’t always play the judge;
he won’t be angry forever.
10 He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin
or repay us according to our wrongdoing,
11 because as high as heaven is above the earth,
that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him.
12 As far as east is from west—
that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.
13 Like a parent feels compassion for their children—
that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor him.
Cue: All You Need is Love by The Beatles
When I look back on my life, I can remember far too many times when I thought something along the lines of, “Well, my parents won’t be mad forever. They’ll forgive me.” And they always did! I love that this passage compares God to a parent as that is very much how I’ve experienced God in my life. Perhaps we can all think of a person or two in our lives that we can take for granted because of the unconditional love they offer us: a guardian, a partner, a friend. It’s amazing to actually experience this kind of love but why is it that the people that really deserve the most love back in our lives are not the ones we put on our best behavior for?
We know that God’s forgiveness spans, “as high as heaven is above the earth” but that doesn’t mean we always avoid situations that need forgiveness. What does it mean to truly recognize and internalize that unconditional love in a way that changes us for the better?
As I’ve gotten older and more independent, I find myself trying to be more intentional about surprising my Dad with a gift he’d love or being sure to set aside time to visit. Whether or not I do this, I would still be loved, and I’ll never be able to repay back my parents for all they have done for me in my life. I can only imagine how many sacrifices my parents made for me that I’ll never know about! But what I do know is that as I’ve become more aware of how precious that unconditional love is, I really want those who offer that to me to feel it too. I want people to feel appreciated for the love they give. I cannot garner any additional love from my parents, they’ve always given all the love they possibly had. But what I can do is ask myself, “Would this have made my mother proud?” I can ask myself if my words and actions display this amazing love I’ve come to know because I want others to know it too. I want everyone to feel it.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What has God’s unconditional love added to your life? Where can you live into it more?
Prayer: Loving God, you have forgiven us far more times than we could ever know. You have gifted us love when we least deserved it. You never turned your back on us even when we turned our back on you. May your loving spirit be in our every breath, so that everyone may know your unconditional love. Amen.