Unconditional Love

Good morning. Today is Saturday, May 18, 2013. Christi continues to rest as she recovers from the surgery. She’s beginning to tire of laying on the couch. It seems to be going really well, though, and she is being really good about following all the rules. She has an appointment Tuesday afternoon to go back to the doctor for a followup. In the meantime, Stephanie and I continue to take care of her, and I must say that Stephanie has been exemplary through this. We are very proud of her.

Not much planned for today. A trip to the grocery store, some practice for tomorrow’s worship celebration, and the rest of the day will probably be spent relaxing.

Today is International Museum Day. That’s a little bit of a problem. I love museums, myself. But my family? Not so much. The problem is, I like to look at everything, and read all the signs! Drives Christi nuts. And I can’t say as I blame her. But, if you have a chance, take in a museum today. Jog on over to the Smithsonian. πŸ˜€

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1152, one of the great romances of history was united in the marriage of Eleanor of Aquataine and Henry Plantagenet, duc d’Anjou. He was only nineteen, she was 30, but that didn’t seem to matter. Apparently, she was almost six months pregnant when they married. They had eight children together, and a year and a half after their marriage, Henry became King of England, and founded a dynasty that would last more than 300 years. Two of their most famous (or infamous, in one case) children were Richard the Lion-Heart and King John, “England’s most despicable king.”

Today’s birthday is Meredith Wilson, born on this date in 1902. Wilson was the composer responsible for my very favorite musical of all time, The Music Man. Here’s a clip of the “Trouble” scene from the movie, featuring Robert Preston as Prof. Harold Hill.

Honorable mentions go to Omar Khayyam, 1048, Matthew Brady, 1822, Frank Capra, 1897, Meredith Wilson, 1902, Perry Como, 1912, Kai Winding, 1922, Brooks Robinson, 1937, Albert Hammond, 1942, Rick Wakeman, 1949, Jim Sundberg, 1951, Michael Tait, 1966, Tina Fey, 1970, and Francesca Battistelli, 1985.


But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD! Psalm 115:18
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:5
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Psalm 108:3-4
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25:5

Father, as I cry out to you this morning, seeking treasures from your Word, I pray that you will be my refuge and my portion. Let sing praises to you for as long as I live, and beyond. Your steadfast love truly is “great above the heavens,” and your faithfulness stretches to the clouds. Lead me, teach me, guide me in your truth and in your salvation.

In Tabletalk Magazine today, there is a quote from Jonathan Edwards:

Resolved never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life or before the last trumpet blew.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Jesus Humbled Himself.” The scripture reading is familiar, from Philippians 2:5-8.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

It is generally accepted that Paul seems to be quoting an early Christian hymn in this passage. In it, Jesus’s example is singled out as the “premier example of Christian life. Christian spiritual formation is growing in con-form-ity to Christ.” Jesus was equal with God, before he became human. However, he chose to not exploit that status. When it says that he did not count this equality as a thing to be grasped, it means that he did not cling to it. “He did not take advantage of his supreme authority for selfish ends.” He “emptied himself;” he gave himself up for death, for the sake of others. This is a prime example of humble obedience. His reward was that he was exalted and give the name that is above every name (v 9). We see from Jesus that status is not gained by “looking out for number one.” Well . . . maybe it is, depending on who that “Number One” is! The book gives us another quote from Andrew Murray’s book Humility.

“The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God’s presence he has learned to say with Paul, ‘I be nothing’ (2 Cor. 12:11). He has received the spirit of Jesus, who did not please Himself and did not seek His own honor, as the spirit of his life.”

Yesterday, as we considered 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, we spoke of “The God who is love.” The central message was that God’s love never changes, and that our sin does not cause him to stop loving us, just as our obedience does not cause him to start loving us again. Today, mercy number 9 is “God loves you unconditionally.” “You and I are loved by God unconditionally and as we are.” I want to read that again and let it sink in, because I’m not sure that we truly comprehend the weight of that statement.

You and I are loved by God unconditionally and as we are!

God loves me as I am, not as I should be. He loves me “beyond fidelity and infidelity, beyond worthiness and unworthiness.” He loves me “without caution, regret, boundary, limit, breaking point.” Regardless of what I do or what happens,






“If you took the love of all the best mothers and fathers who ever lived (think about that for a moment)–all the goodness, kindness, patience, fidelity, wisdom, tenderness, strength, and love–and united all those virtues in one person, that person would only be a faint shadow of the love and the mercy in the heart of God for you and me.”

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:15-16

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ And he arose and came to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion,

and ran

and embraced him

and kissed him.

And 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 servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’

And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'” Luke 15:11-33

“And they began to celebrate.” The son didn’t even get to finish his “apology.” In fact, there is not even any indication that it mattered if the son was sincere! Do you realize this? He was giving a rehearsed speech! The father didn’t care!! His son had come home.

The great spiritual battle begins–and never ends–with the reclaiming of our chosenness. Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love. Our preciousness, uniqueness, and individuality are not given to us by those who meet us in clocktime–our brief chronological existence–but by the One who has chosen us with an everlasting love, a love that existed from all eternity and will last through all eternity.~~Henri J.M. Nouwen

Father, I am staggered by the repeated thoughts of your unconditional love for us; for me. I have spent years resisting the thought of your love for me. Resisting it because, how could you love someone like me? This kind of love does not compute! This kind of love does not exist in my world. How can I fathom such a love? Yet you have spent the last couple of years gently drilling this concept into me. You have tirelessly, unceasingly poured out this love on me while I, bit by bit, began to see the possibility of such love, while still, at the deepest level, continuing to resist it. I’m still a sinful creature, even though redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Having had so many human relationships, how can I fathom the thought that, when I disobey you, you are not angry? How can this be true? How can you not be disappointed in me? (Never mind the fact that it’s difficult impossible to be disappointed when you already know what we are going to do!)

Mark this day, Father. Today, I give up. Today, I embrace this love! With tears, I throw in the proverbial towel. I cannot fight this love. I can no longer resist it. Do I understand it? No, the the exponentially infinite power! I will never fathom it. But I don’t have to understand; I don’t have to grasp it. I just have to believe that it is true, and I do believe it, yes I do. I praise your name for this unconditional love.

I pray that all around me can know this love and experience this love. I pray, along with Paul, in Ephesians, that everyone I know may “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” Haha! How can I “know” something that “surpasses knowledge??” Ah, Lord God! Fill me up with this amazing love.

Let this day be full of your love, Lord, as I go about the tasks that must be done now. And then, I pray for some relaxation as I take care of my beautiful wife, who loves me more than I deserve.

Grace and peace, friends

5 thoughts on “Unconditional Love

  1. Not to be too picky about this Jeff, but the statement “Jesus was equal with God, before he became human” distresses me a tad. I’m sure you don’t mean to imply that Jesus was no longer equal with God when He became a human being…

    And, thanks for the clip from THE MUSIC MAN. That’s a great time with Robert Preston.
    Many blessings!

    1. Not at all, Carley, other than the fact that he limited himself by becoming human. The idea is focusing more on what he gave up when he left glory to live on earth for a few years. Thanks for your prayers, support, and comments! πŸ™‚

  2. What a powerful testimony! I so appreciate your heart, your writing, your honesty! Our belief in unconditional love is difficult to achieve because as humans, we can hardly understand what this truly means…even when we think we do. I love the story of the prodigal son…so amazing and so beautiful. Love the depiction of the father running to greet the son. This has come to be my favorite passage in scripture for the image of grace, forgiveness, mercy and love it shows. Blessings! ~ Sheila

    1. Thank you so much, Sheila. The prodigal son parable has come more alive for me in the last six months than in my entire life. There are so many nuances in it that were never brought out before. It’s a very complex parable!

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