God, in his grace, allows his redeemed to experience the ways that he loves them through varying life experiences. Ultimately, we learn of all of this love, infallibly, through the words of Scripture which declare the sacrifice of the very Word of life, Jesus Christ, for his enemies making them his beloved.
However, in experiential terms, we can begin to learn – in whatever small way – the full breadth of God’s love for us through some of life’s experiences. For instance, we begin to know God’s friendship with us when a friend fails, or turns their back, yet we are given the faith to welcome them back to a completely restored relationship. Another way we can better understand God’s love for us is through the covenant of marriage, knowing that it has been established by God, we find great security to not only fail but confess and receive grace from our spouse. Or perhaps we can glean God’s fatherly love for his children through bearing our own children.
This list can go on with adoption, the general giving of grace to others, and more, but the point is that God has not just told and shown us his love in Christ, but , having first been loved by God, he allows us to participate in that love so that we may know it more deeply. Whatever imperfect love we feel in these circumstances God experiences this love toward us perfectly and in a magnitude that we cannot comprehend.
My wife, Verena, and I are about to have our first child. James Calvin Boga. And as the due-date draws nearer, my anticipation grows exponentially. Though I am a bit anxious about having the full responsibility for another person, I am more anxious – with eager anticipation – about this new way I will be able to begin experiencing God’s love for his children through the way I will love my son.
I can only begin to understand my anticipation through my marriage. My wife and I were both Christians before we got married, and we knew very well of God’s covenant with us through Christ. But once we were married I actually felt my knowledge move to deeper understanding by experiencing things I could have never truly experienced otherwise. Through my marriage, I can better understand the joy that was set before Christ that propelled him to endure the cross for his Bride. I now understand more deeply God’s covenant love that does not tell me to perform in order to maintain relationship, but says despite your shortcomings I will still love you. I can more profoundly experience a love that is bound in something far greater than Verena or me. Instead, it is bound in God and his faithfulness. Ultimately, through my imperfect marriage I begin to more greatly understand Christ’s perfect love for his Bride.
Having experienced that, I now look to fatherhood. I feel like I know God’s father heart toward me but I am anxiously anticipating understanding it at a depth that I couldn’t have any other way. I am eager to hold my child for the first time and just feel the love. I imagine that I will have many other instances to know God’s father heart toward me through discipline, teaching, encouragement, and more, but I expect this to be altogether different. To hold my son in my arms, gaze at him, and simply see the combined likeness of Verena and me. To look on him with such inescapable love before he has done anything at all. To call him my son, with all of the rights that entails, and never ask him to earn his standing. These are very real ways that I know God loves me, in Christ, and these are the ways I have been anticipating, yet cannot quite fully understand.
Verena and I have had nearly five amazing years of marriage, just the two of us, and while it is a bit sad to close that chapter, a new chapter awaits. There are times and seasons for everything, and that season of life is passing quickly but we look forward to the next with great joy. To Him be the glory, forever!
Photo Credit: @bschwartz