Two Embraces

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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“I grew up in a household where anger and resentment were served at every meal. In my home, love was a thing to be earned, never given. We got hugs for being good and when we deserved them. I suppose that’s one of the major reasons I had so much trouble when I was told that Jesus loved me and wanted good things for me.”

These words spilled out of a 15-year-old who had committed her life to Jesus and was experiencing unconditional love for the first time.

Why do we humans give our love with clauses? “I’ll love you if you behave.” “ . . . if you are wealthy and continue to buy me things.” “ . . . if you are attractive, physically fit, and stay that way.” “ . . . if you satisfy my needs.” Is it possible to find love without clauses? Can we ourselves learn to love without strings?

The most vivid image of unconditional love appears in the gospel of Luke, Chapter 15.

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

This is the prodigal son—the character many of us become at some point in our lives. This son had rejected his father, his family, his core values, his security, and his home . . . and left it all behind. The gesture of taking his inheritance said, “You’re as good as dead to me.”

The son used his inheritance to travel to a foreign country and live with reckless abandon. When his fortunes inevitably turned and his resources ran dry, he was left broken, lonely, humiliated, and hungry. He found himself at the unfamiliar crossroads of life or death. But in his desperation, it came to him that even his father’s hired men were far more content than he. “So he got up and went to his father.”

The two embraces—the ones in the teenage girl’s home and the father’s embrace of his long lost son—stand in stark contrast to one another. The first leaves us unfulfilled, needy; the second strikes us with awe for love beyond understanding. If, like the teenage girl, your understanding of love was built on conditions, the good news is that the other kind of love exists. Your Heavenly Father is running towards you, arms open.
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