My husband and I only do camping when it involves a place with a proper roof over our heads. My kids on the other hand really love the rough and tumble way, needless to say we have both our kids in Scouts and other activities where they can do their type of camping to their hearts content. It just so happened that over the last couple of days I had both my children at one stage on different camps which meant that my husband and I had all the time to ourselves making all these plans to go to movies, eat out and generally do anything we don’t normally get time for. The general assumption would be that the time without the kids must have been wonderful for us and I must say we did enjoy the movie and the eating out, but at the same time I found this time quite trying. The house was deathly quiet. There was no laughter, no running of feet around me and no fighting between the two boys (of which there are normally a lot). I missed them with all my heart, and I just wanted them back. It was also with a shock that I realized that they are growing up very fast, becoming more and more independent, and suddenly I had this fear that I am going to wake up soon one day with them thinking they don’t need me anymore. Rather than enjoying the freedom of no responsibility I was counting the days for them to come back, wanting to know that they are fine and that I can just get the opportunity to cuddle them a bit again. In my quiet time yesterday while thanking God for bringing my kids safely home I started reflecting about how similar that love and yearning that one has for a child must be for God. After all, God did create us in His image (Genesis 1:26) so we have some similar attributes and from Israel’s history we have learnt that His love for humanity is tireless.
But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them.
God has never stopped loving Israel and even in times when they have turned their back on Him worshipping idols and living lives that did not reflect God’s Laws, He has never forsaken them. Waiting and yearning for them to come back to Him so that He could bless them and shower them with love. But God’s love is not only limited to Israel because He has created every human being to share in His love. Even when sin has broken that relationship did He not sacrifice His only Son to overcome that rift? So how does God feel when we are not close to Him, safe and secure in His embrace? We all have stages in our life when we have drifted off be it through sin, a boost of too much independence or just from losing focus. Does He wait in anticipation for us to return so that He can bestow his love on us without any reservation? I think He does. Did Jesus not tell us this when he told the parable of the lost son?
So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
And so it was in our household. The morning of the boys expected return I was already planning the evening’s menu, all their favorite dishes just to see the smiles on their faces. And when I picked them up and actually got a hug or two, telling me that I was missed during this time it was the best thing ever. The warmth and happiness that passed through my heart made everything worth it. I probably have to mention as well that in between I was told however that the camp’s food was nicer than mine but they were still glad they were back.
I think part of the reason for God’s tireless love is that He also experience that inner joy when we return to Him and show him our love. He will always take us back in His embrace no matter how long the separation, no matter what the circumstance.