Zebra drapes across my legs, and I stroke his striped coat. I can hear and feel his purrs, which echo my own enchantment. Is this love?
A cool front sweeps away another bout of fog which had hung in the air for days. The air whisks with clarity and exuberance, lifting me in its curling waves. The sky is brighter, my heart is lighter. Is this love?
Last night, my husband tackled grocery shopping with me. Maybe it’s buying the same fruits, vegetables, meat and bread that make shopping dull or perhaps it’s the loading, unloading and putting them away. Having my best friend along makes a chore an outing. He has already put in a full day at work, but he takes me to the grocery store. Is that love?
Tonight, our oldest son rolls in with his dog. We cherish our other sons and daughter-in-law, but this will be his first solo visit in something like ten years. I imagine squeezing my arms around his solid frame, and I can’t help grinning. Is this love?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
We’ve all heard about that Bible verse, whether in church or at a football game, it’s repeated so often that we don’t hear it anymore. I couldn’t envision loving a majestic God with hoary eyebrows and streaming hair, seated on a gargantuan throne, a God who rules the universe. How can anyone love such a far-removed, unfamiliar being? Still, as part of the collective world which God loves, I was struck with shame at my apathetic lack of appreciation.
In high school I went to a Bible study, because boys would be there, upperclassmen at that. I met the love of my life. He wanted to hear everything about me. He wanted to go home with me and watch me do my homework. He wanted to meet my family and talk about my friends. In fact, he wanted to be involved in every last detail of my life. I’d never dreamed of someone who cared that much about me. Was it love?
I can’t explain how I knew, but it was love, and though I couldn’t see this fellow, I loved him right back, because he loved me first. I felt it deeper than I felt Zebra’s vibration, even though I couldn’t feel or hear my love’s voice. Knowing he was with me, I felt the lightness the cool front brought multiplied times 100. I appreciated his love, like I was grateful for my husband’s shopping date. I felt his invisible hug, as real as my son’s hug.
I never dreamed I could experience this kind of love from a God that I can’t see or hear or touch, but as majestic as he is, surrounded by thousands of heavenly beings, so is his immense love for me, for us. He stooped to earth out of love. I asked him to show me how to love him, and he answered. He was dying for all of us to ask.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10
Zebra, the refreshing breeze, my husband and my son all showed love to me, a love which stemmed from him, who was before the beginning of the world.