Not long ago, I learned that when I was a baby, one of my primary caregivers regularly told me that my mother didn’t love me and that’s why she left me to go to work every day. Of course, when this was discovered, my parents found a new babysitter, but the invisible damage had already been done.
Although I was too young to understand the words spoken over me, my little heart somehow experienced the power of the lies. As I grew older, the fruit of this was a painful longing to be loved, which began to show up in my thoughts about myself, my expectations of those close to me, and my self-protective behavior.
Deep down in my heart, I believed there was something fatally wrong with me.
This lie facilitated an explosive and destructive self-hatred, as I aimlessly searched for relief and love in all the wrong places. Even when I accepted Jesus into my life, my inner pain kept me from engaging with God’s heart from me.
Though I intellectually knew He loved me, my own wounds kept me for experiencing His love in a way that would heal and transform my heart.
My story is not unique. Though the reasons behind our pain are varied, this reality is common to many Christians. Like me, they have not experienced the first love of God for them, and as a result, they do not know who they really are.
Jesus told a story about a son like this—two sons in fact. Neither knew their father’s heart toward them. Though one turned to wild living and the other to performance, their need was the same: a revelation of the unconditional love of their father.
A relook at this well-worn story of two sons and their father (see Luke 15) is a first step on our journey toward knowing God’s love and who we are in light of His love. Most Christians have heard this story more times than they can count. Perhaps that’s because it contains one of the Bible’s most compelling analogies of Father God’s love for us.
Many Bibles refer to this story as the parable of the prodigal son. I like to refer to the father, not the younger son, in this story as the true prodigal, because the word prodigal, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “one who spends or gives lavishly and foolishly.” It is true that the first son spent his inheritance prodigally—he “squandered his wealth in wild living” (Luke 15:13).
However, his actions pale in comparison to the prodigal nature of the father’s response to his son. It is the father—whose lavish and foolish demonstrations of love defy reason and responsibility—who is the greatest prodigal of this story. And his prodigal love gives us a picture of the reckless, extravagant, and unreasonable love of Father God for us.
This is God’s heart for all of His sons and daughters, for every person ever born. He is extreme, excessive, and extravagant with His love toward His children, even when those children have wandered far from His heart. In Jesus’ parable, we see in both sons a picture of God’s response to those children who have wandered from His heart.
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This is an excerpt from my new book Loved Like Jesus.
I wrote it because I want you to experience the deep love that your heavenly Father has for you. Living from this reality as a much loved son or daughter, you can rest in a confident connection with Him and experience abundant living and lasting freedom.
Order my book today for yourself and an extra copy for a friend, your pastor and/or your small group.
Be blessed, my friends.
Thanking Him for you,