I could barely hear her on the other line. There was an ocean between us, after all.
But I heard her say it, heard her say that His love had always been bigger.
When they’d lowered their two year old boy in the ground and when they’d had to flee to the States for safety and when they’d come back despite the threats and when she’d heard the gunshots outside their apartment, in all those big moments, she said His love had been bigger.
She said that everywhere she turned, His love was always there.
And it was that very day that the big kids and I drove to say another goodbye, to see nothing but a framed picture of our dear friend’s dear brother who’s body had finally given way to the cancer. We all stood together, the elders ‘Amen’s in the back, and we sang it loud,
‘O, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.’
God’s is no simple sort of love.
I’ve been following these words this year through Scripture…
‘His steadfast love endures forever.’
Been finding those five words all over the place. Been watching how such big things happen when God’s people sang those few words.
How Solomon had built the temple and laid the gold but it wasn’t until the trumpets played and the singers sang, ‘His steadfast love endures forever,’ it wasn’t until then that the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud.
How Jehoshaphat faced enemies on every side and was so afraid but he prayed and fasted and God told him just to sing. And they bowed low and they stood tall and sang it out, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’ The melody left their mouths and God stretched out His hand and they climbed the watchtower to see their enemy dead before them.
How Ezra had the Levites sing when the Jews returned and finally laid the foundation for the temple again. They sang it in tears of sorrow and shouts of joy, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.‘ And they did what they were sure they’d never do-they rebuilt the house for the Lord of steadfast love.
How Isaiah and Jeremiah and David and Daniel and Micah-how they all give thanks to Him for His steadfast love. They all said it, ‘His steadfast love endures forever.’
How the Psalms say it again and again. 107 and 118 and 136. They’re all telling us again and again to tell Him again and again that His steadfast love will be there for His redeemed again and again.
People say it, ‘God is love’ all the time. They say, ‘Love wins.’
But do they say it in places like this? Say it when they’ve given their lives to share Christ and His goodness with Muslims and everywhere they turn, there’s trouble? Say it when they’ve done nothing but give Christ’s life to others and suddenly, their life is cut short?
It’s ‘Hesed’ or ‘Checed’ in the Hebrew. some translate it ‘mercy’ and some ‘lovingkindness’ and some ‘steadfast love.’
It really is a pity that there’s only one word in the English dictionary for ‘love.’
It’s true. God is love.
But can we see that love doesn’t always, and almost always, doesn’t come through the door holding a box of chocolates and a dozen roses?
Do we make room for God to love us like this? Do we allow God the liberty to “keep steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin but who, will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children…”? Exodus 34:7
Do we let God love us with trials and tests, both hard and soft places, with mundane and chaotic moments, lonely spaces and ‘I need room to breathe’ moments? Can He love us with cancer or cranky kids or just a simple puddle of spilled milk? How about a grenade in our sons’ Sunday school class or a job offer that just never comes or another very curt word from your spouse?
Is there room in our dictionary for this definition?
With every tick of the clock and turn of the calendar, with every turn of the head, do we turn around and see His love?
I want to. I do want to.
But when I turn around, what I see can find me off my guard, and oh, I am tempted to respond the way unloved and fearful Nicole would have—put out, prideful, annoyed, abrupt, insincere, flustered, jealous, embarrassed.
I can so easily forget that I’m turning into more of His love.
This, right here, right now, is steadfast love.
If I am His, if I am truly His through Christ, then He is here in me. And He will be faithfully good to me, relentlessly kind, there will be no change to his mercy.
He can give me nothing but love if His beloved Son paid for all my sin, if His beloved Spirit lives right here within me.
Things don’t have to turn around if all around me is nothing but Christ’s love.
I want a head that turns like my sweet sister’s across the ocean. I want eyes that see what my friend’s dear brother saw: nothing but deep, deep love.
So I don’t come up with my own definition for love.
I come back right here to His. I read the way He loves, with the weeping prophet and the nation that had lost it all and David, the man with blood on his hands.
I read and underline it, how He can love in the most surprising of ways. And how He must smile when we notice, when we stop, when we give thanks to Him because His steadfast love has endured forever, right up to this very moment.
His steadfast love endures forever.