Loving a Prodigal: He Loved Us First
This is the first post in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on LOVE, which is the theme of the 2014 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals. This letter goes to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, but it is true for all of us.
Dear Lover of Prodigals,
I love my prodigal. You love your prodigal.
But sometimes it’s not easy. Our love is tested, stretched. Unappreciated. Not returned—even thrown back in our faces. We grow weary and discouraged.How do we keep loving as the years unfold? What does love look like when they keep making bad choices?
In most of the mini-devotionals over the next two months, we will let God’s love challenge us to live out with our prodigals His truly radical love. We will explore a few descriptions and qualities of love in God’s Word. We will try to understand what it means to love as Jesus has loved us.
This I know: I am not capable of that kind of love. Jesus set an impossibly high standard. So how? How do we love and keep on loving our often hard-to-love prodigals?
Our theme verse for this year’s June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals is 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.” The Message expands this picture: “We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.”
So if we are going consider how we can radically love our loved ones, we must be certain of, confident in, comfortable in God’s love for us. Of course, all of Scripture is a love letter to us. And many verses and passages declare and affirm His unfailing, everlasting love for us.
I have picked just a few words from the Word to remind us of the greatness of God’s love for you and for me. These verses are for us:
“For the Lord your God…will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”(Zephaniah 3:17, New Living)
This verse paints a rich picture for me of God singing a love song to me, calming me, encouraging me with words of love. And oh how often I need to hear that love song!
“Long ago the Lord said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.’” (Jeremiah 31:3, New Living)
I love this promise. He speaks tenderly to His people—to us. His love is everlasting—never ending, always there, forever. His love is unfailing—it will never let us down or abandon us or make a mistake. And with this everlasting, unfailing love He draws us, calls us, woos us to Himself.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be abl e to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, New Living)
Sometimes I am sure I have sinned or failed so badly that I have lost, destroyed, canceled out God’s love. How could He still love me?
Sometimes I am sure I have sinned or failed so badly that I have lost, destroyed, canceled out God’s love. How could He still love me? Yet these verses drill into our hearts and remind us of this truth: We can’t make God quit loving us. No one else, nothing else can separate us from that everlasting, unfailing love. Such comfort, such hope!
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, New Living)
There is a lot in this verse, but let’s just focus on this: God gives us a spirit of love. Specifically, His Spirit living in us will love through us. All that amazing love we just considered is given to us, but also given through us.
This is what our theme verse is saying: Because God has lavished His love on us, and sent His Spirit to live in us, He makes it possible for us to love with His love. Which we surely need for our prodigals.
Over the next weeks we will explore what this love looks like—for us as we receive it from God, for our prodigals as let God love through us.
In His Love,
c2014 Judy Douglass
If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation.