Unconditional Love

It’s a warm sunny afternoon with a slight breeze.  But when a dog spends an hour chasing other dogs at full speed at the dog park, she ends up winded and worn out.

Once my dog has scraped herself up off the cool garage floor, I encourage her to come to the basement with me.  She doesn’t realize that the cold concrete floor in the laundry room would be a soothing balm to her fast beating heart and worn out body.  I try to tell her, but she doesn’t listen.  She just wants to be where I am.  Wherever that is.

Since I’m with her all day every day lately, she has grown very attached to me.  Everywhere I go in the house, she is glued to my leg.  She leans on me for no reason.  She wants me to play with her in the evening.  When she thinks it’s time to go to the dog park, she looks at me with that excited look.  Waiting for me to say the word.  Dog park!

She enjoys her treats and rewards.  Sometimes she gets more than she deserves.  Other times, she begs for a treat for no apparent reason.  She sure knows how to wrap herself around my little finger.

She loves getting hugs and attention.  Sitting on the floor with her head in my lap as I pet her is heaven for her.  But there are times when I want to hold her close and love on her, and she sticks out her leg to keep me away.  She won’t allow me to pull her close.  She holds me at arms length.   She will push away from me, so I can’t hug her.  Oh.  She wants me to keep petting her, but she doesn’t want any hugs.

There are times I want her to experience new sights and smells.  She loves that.  I enjoy rewarding her.  I even asked someone to train her to be a better dog.  I wanted her to learn from the best how to be a great dog.


See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!  1 John 3:1


I think of my Master.  He loves me unconditionally.  In fact, it doesn’t matter what I do.  He’ll still love me.  Oh.  There are times he’ll discipline me.  He’ll chastise me.  But I know he loves me still.

I find the more time I spend with my Master, the more time I want to spend with Him.  I lean on him for guidance.  I cozy up to him when I need comfort.  I ask for his peace when I face uncertain times.  Oh.  There are times when we don’t see eye to eye.  I ask for favors when I don’t deserve them.  I ask God to answer prayers that may be selfish or foolish.  I still have a lot to learn in my relationship with God.

There are times he wants to hold me close.  Wrapped in his arms of safety and security.  But I push him away.  Oh.  I want him nearby, but I don’t want his hugs.  I want to be close enough I can call if I need him, but not so close that I am engulfed in his presence.  Why is that?  Why do I seek independence?  Why do I hold him at arm’s length?  Why don’t I surrender fully to him?

The thing is.  He knew me before I was even born.  He knows the number of hairs on my head.  He knows my thoughts even if I don’t speak.  He sees everything I do.  He hears every word I say.  He knows my intentions.  He knows the number of days I will live.  He has the best plans laid out for me.  I am his.

 

 

Royal Wedding

We have a new princess.  She and her prince born husband have new royal titles.  Their wedding was spectacular.  They have the world at their disposal.  It’s the wedding of the year.

The wedding was paid for by the royal family.  No expense was spared.  Beautiful flowers.  2 designer gowns.  A borrowed tiara.  Military uniform.  Molded gold rings.  Wedding feast.  Rolls Royce chauffeur.  A blue Jaguar.  Celebrity guest list.

Oh.  There were complications.  Paparazzi.  Stories of half-siblings wanting more attention than they deserved.  Uncertainty swirling around the father of the bride.  American actress.  Biracial marriage.  Previous divorce.

She gave up her career.  She left her home country.  She took his name.  She accepted his ring.  Diamonds from his mother’s collection.  She became his.  And he is hers.  She moved from a common life to become royalty.  All because of love.

Stand by me.  This little light of mine.  Ave Maria.  Beautiful music that covered different backgrounds and beliefs.  The sermon spoke of committed lifelong love.

Oh.  I have been a bride.  Dressed in white.  On the arm of my father.  Bouquet in hand.  Veil covered face.  I walked down the aisle to my beloved.  I said the vows.  I wore the ring.  I shared the kiss.

I pledged my love.  My faithfulness.  My life.  To him.  For better.  For worse.  For richer.  For poorer.  In sickness.  In health.  For as long as we both shall live.  Till death us do part.

He stood there waiting for me.  Waiting to take the hand of the woman who said yes to his request to be his wife.  I gladly accepted the proposal.  I happily placed my hand in his.  I am his and he is mine.


I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.  Song of Solomon  6:3


I think of another wedding.  Oh.  It will be royal.  One of epic proportion.  I will again be the bride.  My bridegroom is waiting for me.  I know he loves me.  He’s given life to me.  He’s sacrificed for me.

He is the lover of my soul.  Oh.  He has wooed me.  He works for me.  But he paid the price for my sins.  He gave his life for me.  So I could be his bride.  That was his purpose.  He chose me.  He wants me as his own.

I’ve accepted his proposal.  We are betrothed.  I want to share his name.  I choose to be his bride.  For eternity.  Oh.  I’ve let him down.  I’ve failed him.  I don’t always live up to his standards.  But he still chooses me.  He keeps calling me to come closer.

My bridegroom has a name.  He is Jesus Christ. We will have a magnificent wedding feast.  He will sit at the right hand of his father.  He will welcome me home.

Oh.  I won’t be the only bride at this wedding.  There will be many brides.  Anyone who has accepted his proposal will be called bride.  You see.  At this wedding, the focus will be on the bridegroom.  Not on the bride.  The bridegroom asks for the hand of each of us.  We must accept or be left out.  He wants us as his very own.  He’s chosen us.  We’re handpicked for royalty.

We Really Do Need Each Other

We get home from the dog park and pile out of the car.  As soon as her feet touch the cool concrete of the garage, she lies down for a breather.  Panting hard and enjoying the cool floor, she lies still for what seems like forever.  Not wanting to move.   She’s worn out from the hour spent with other breeds of her own kind.

A liver spotted Dalmatian.  3 Huskies, 2 of them pups.  A friendly Pit Bull.  A Golden Retriever.  Some half breeds.  Some pure bred.  Others are a bundle of mix and all mutt.  But all dogs.  Playful.  Fun loving.  Energetic.  Dogs that love to run and chase balls.  Rough house with each other.  Establishing dominance and order.  Finding a friend for the moment.  It’s a dog’s life, after all.

Once their owners get out of the way, the dogs will navigate amongst themselves and discover the leader of the pack.  The leader is always sure to stand out.  Some dogs hit it off immediately.  Others warm up to each other slowly.    Some dogs are aggressive.  Others so passive, they roll over and submit without a fight.  And then there are the loners.

These dogs need to be with their own kind so they’ll know how to be dogs.  They learn from each other.  Social behaviors.  Pack rules.  Being a lone wolf isn’t all it’s cut out to be.  Dogs need their pack and each dog plays a role.


As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.  Proverbs 27:17


I saw the text immediately.  Pray for me.  She said.  I don’t know who else to turn to.

I stopped everything and prayed for her right then and there.  My friend was in need and I could help by praying.  You see.  I’ve been in similar situations.  I’ve had moments when I needed to reach out to others.  Asking for them to pray for me when I couldn’t.  When I was hurting and confused.  When my world had fallen apart.

We need Christian friends who can hold us up in our time of need.  The Christian walk isn’t for the faint.  And it isn’t to be done alone. We need each other.

I have friends.  Christian friends.  They’re all different.  Some are my age.  Others are  younger.  Some are moms.  Some are grandmothers.  Some work.  Others don’t.  Some are single.  Others are married.  I call them friend.  Friends I count on to encourage me in my Christian walk.

I have a friend who will unexpectedly text me a thoughtful note or an encouraging Scripture right when I need it.  Others have sent texts saying they were praying for me.  Still others ask how I’m doing.  Some ask specifically how they can pray.  I need them.  I need each of these friends. Each one of them has a role in my Christian walk.  They hold me accountable.  They listen to me.  They give godly advice.  They quote Scripture to me.  They pray for me.  I need that.  I need them.  I can’t do this Christian walk alone.

We need fellowship and friendship with each other.  We need fellow Christians to walk alongside us during our heartaches and trials.  When we can’t walk alone.  We need friends who will be Jesus to us right then and there.  That’s how God made us.  That’s what he wants for us.  Oh. We can deny it.  At times, we choose to ignore it and try to be a lone wolf.  Have you heard a lone wolf’s cry?

Reuben Welch said that in the midst of all our likenesses and similarities, there can be fragmentation, division, insecurity and loneliness.  Mostly loneliness.   Oh.  He said that in the late 70’s.  He even wrote a book about it.  But it still holds true today.  Reuben Welch was right.  We really do need each other.

My Kind of Man

He was a man of few words.  Until he spoke.  He gave good solid advice.  He made sound decisions.  He spoke with authority.

He was a man among men.  He was a leader.  Oh.  He didn’t seek out leadership positions.  They sought him.  Whether it was the school board.  The church board.  The farm association board.  He always ended up being the leader.  He never said if he was comfortable in that position.  But somehow those positions always found him.  And he led well.  He was respected and loved.

My dad loved to tease people.  He would honk the horn at pretty women.  Flirt with them.  Joke with others.  He had a nickname for most people.

He laughed when a prank caller insisted he was cheating on my mom.  My mom didn’t laugh.  He wasn’t cheating and they both knew it.  He loved my mom with a fierce love.  He was protective and watchful over her.  To her dying day.

Daddy loved pears and hated iced tea.  He always wanted a watermelon with candles for his birthday in July.  Birthday cake was not good enough for this man.

I think back to my childhood years when life was carefree for me.  They were years of hard work for him.   I can picture him in his v-neck t-shirt, worn thin from years of wear.  I can see him leaning against the kitchen door frame.  Head thrown back in a hearty laugh.  Oh.  I can still hear that laugh.


The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9


After sitting on a hot, noisy tractor all day, my dad liked to walk into a quiet house.  Piano practice had to be over.  The radio turned off.  No noise.  Just peace and quiet.  That’s what he liked after a noise filled day.

Daddy loved his work. He’s the first man I ever knew who loved his job. Oh. It wasn’t a job. It was a lifestyle. It was hard work with few rewards and great sacrifice. It was farming. And it ran in his blood.

His heart attack forced retirement on him in his early 70’s. He never really bounced back from the open heart surgery. It made an old man out of him.

Every night before we went to bed, he would call us kids into the living room.  He would pull out the Bible story book and open it.  There we would sit and listen as he read a story to us.  We read through that book many times over the years, with those stories engrained in our memory.  Then we would kneel and pray as a family.  Each night.  Those prayers are engrained in my heart.

Oh.  He wasn’t a perfect man.  But he was the wisest, smartest and noblest man a girl could ever choose for a father.  No.  He didn’t play ball with us or take us out to eat.  But he taught us a solid work ethic.  He taught us to share what we had with others.  He led by example.

I love the kind of man my dad was.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I chose a husband made from the same cloth.  One who loves God.  Loves his work.  Has a great sense of humor.  Makes solid decisions.  A leader.  An influencer.  Well respected.  Someone I wholeheartedly trust.  That’s my kind of man.