I’ve come to realize as an innumerable host of people have, that I can’t begin to fully fathom, appreciate or explain how great our Father’s love is for us. It’s like the size of the universe—I understand at some simplistic level that it would take at least 92 billion light years to travel from one “end” to the other but I also recognize at another level those are just words that experientially I have no basis for comprehending. It’s important to understand that I’m not at all in despair about this and in fact I am in good company. When speaking of how we are known so intimately and loved ultimately the psalmist says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is too lofty for me to attain” (139:6). Preach on brother.
His love is so much greater than any reference point we have for love. In our efforts to understand divine love we turn to examples of human love because that’s the best we can do. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that—Jesus did the same thing in Matthew 7:7-11 when asked His audience, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?” He used parental love (evil/imperfect compared to God’s holy love) as a launching point for understanding God’s love so we’re not off base in doing the same thing. However, the words “how much more” need to be underlined because they instruct us as to the very real gap that exists between earthly and heavenly love. Human love is extremely helpful in understanding our Father’s love but it has limitations. Parental love is powerful, deep and strong and a wondrous thing. Still, it’s a little hard to compare to God’s love for the entire creation. It’s like comparing our solar system to the universe. They are both glorious but on much different scales.
So where does all of this leave me? While I don’t purport to grasp God’s love at anything other than a basic level, I can and do join the company of those who recognize it is “too wonderful for me.” I can appreciate that and express it to God through the way I think, speak and live. I accept and embrace His love more than I understand it.
There are numerous benefits to this. The first is that it allows God to be God and us not to be—that’s always healthy as humility is a cornerstone of Christian character. Then it also affects tremendously how we view forgiveness. If we humanize our Father’s love we’re likely to do the same thing with His forgiveness and wonder if and how His love can eclipse our sin. We will end up as a question mark rather than an exclamation point and that is helpful to no one. But if we embrace the “how much more” aspect of our Father’s love then we won’t stumble over how His grace can be greater than man’s sin. Finally, all of this should leave us with a deeper, more profound sense of wonder, celebration and worship in regard to God.
That’s never a bad thing.
God’s love for us is the transcendent force in our life that provides meaning, strength and hope to us in all circumstances and situations. To embrace it is to allow the fundamental power behind all creation to drive our lives. To minimize it is to lurch down the road of life in a vehicle that knocks and backfires.
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).