As a weight loss counselor, I see a wide variety of people during the course of my work day. You have the graduates: the people who have achieved their goals and walk into the center with smiles on their faces and skinny jeans on their hips. Then you have the people who are struggling to lose their weight. They had a rough weekend or they simply haven’t been trying hard enough. They are defeated. It is truly heartbreaking.
My favorite clients to sit with are the ones who bring in their children. It’s always an adventure trying to have a counseling session with small boys running around at top speed shouting war cries! Anyone who’s ever had a conversation with me knows that I absolutely love the warrior spirit that boyhood is so bent on celebrating.
The other day, I had a father come into the center with his three children. He had a daughter of probably seven, a young son who couldn’t have been more than three, and an infant of no more than eight months. The father sat down and began his session with one of my co-workers, and the girl and boy proceeded to do their laps. After only a few minutes, as you might expect, there was a slight bump, and the sound of a small child crying issued forth from the other side of the center. Immediately, without a single word or even a look of frustration, the father jumped from his chair and sought out his injured child. There was no anger in his face, but a solid, daring determination. He sought out his son, picked him up his arms, took him back to his seat, and kissed his forehead and simply asked, “What happened?”
Meanwhile, I’m sitting at my own desk practically in tears. You see, dear friends, this is the father heart of God! He chases after us the moment we cry out to Him, wraps us up in His arms, kisses our forehead, and simply asks, “What happened?” This is not to say that He does not know what we’ve been up to. He is fully aware of our metaphorical (and perhaps literal) laps around the room. However, He is patient with us. He asks us because we are designed to be comforted by His voice. The voice of our Father is the voice of the One who loves us. In that moment, that young boy’s tears began to fade as he felt his father’s arms around him. The father was not angry. He did not strike his son or berate the little one for running around like the boy he was. He was merely patient with his son, and comforted him.
How much more does our Father in heaven love to wrap His arms around us? And how much more grace does He have for us when, like the little boys we are, we injure ourselves simply by running around the room? Ultimately, as Karl Barth would say (in far less words), God’s “Yes” to us far outweighs His “No.” It is this “Yes” that we hear when we cry out in pain, needing comfort. And my, what a comfort He is!
Perhaps the best part of unconditional love is the complete and utter lack of I-told-you-so’s. Unconditional love doesn’t keep score or lose its patience. Rather, “…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV) If Jon Foreman is right, and love is a verb, then love sounds a lot like grace and looks a lot like comfort. It is this crazy notion that a person is worth more than the ways that they hurt themselves and make themselves cry. Love is this huge, resplendent, lion of a Father who couldn’t even dream of letting His children cry forever.
Friends, let us take comfort in this image of our Father: the one who, at the sound of our voice crying out, immediately leaves His throne, wraps us up in His arms, kisses our forehead…and shows us the Love that we could never deserve or earn, but that Love that has found us.