In Robert Munsch’s book Love You Forever, the mother sings to her newborn son, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” It is a powerful tale of life-long love between mother and growing child and it’s a challenge to read it through without tears! At the end of the story, the mother is an old woman in need of care and the adult child returns to provide it.
The book doesn’t describe the challenges of parenting, the ‘growing pains’ of the relationships between parent and child. There is no chapter devoted to ‘bad’ parents’, those who do not provide even the basic necessities of life, even when they could; nor does it describe uncaring or abusive children. But in its rose coloured simplicity Munsch’s story touches a chord within the human psyche, the human spirit… the desire to be loved ‘forever and always’.
Human love cannot be perfect, cannot be totally unconditional…But God’s love can!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” God’s love is so great that God will give everything to bring eternal life to all people. What a promise! John 3:16 is so familiar it is possible that the depth of its proclamation eludes us. God so loved the world. Wait, this world? The one rife with violence, poverty, injustice, where human beings destroy each other in a myriad of ways? God loves this world enough to give God’s Son, in the hope that life, and peace, will prevail, “that the world might be saved through him”. God so loved the world, not just ‘out there’, but right here. God so loves us, with all those, shall we say, imperfections, enough to send Jesus, to show us the way.
The scriptures do not provide a view of God’s relationship with God’s people through rose coloured glasses. The relationship, as evidenced time and time again, involves trust, concern, discipline and also struggle, doubt, and risk. And that is reality of a growing, lively personal relationship with God. God’s love is not romantic, or sentimental. This is the one who knows everything about us…all our secrets, all our faults, insecurities and sins. We may not always like God or feel that God is present. We may not get answers for all our questions, or the answers we want. We may not be comfortable with God’s activity in our lives, of our Lord’s call to us, in ministry and in witness. But whether we ‘feel’ it or not, God’s love for us is constant; more so than the most loving human parent; more than we can imagine. Nothing can extinguish it. It is forever and it is for always! “For God so loved the world…”
Non-Recipe: Buy a heart shaped baking pan. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. Use it regularly for brownies, or rice crispy squares, or macaroni and cheese, or anything else you can imagine. Serve it to those you love.