Loving a Prodigal: This for That or Unconditional?

This is the sixth 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.

We are such a this-for-that species, we humans.

We give a gift—with some expectation of a gift in return at the appropriate time.

We do a favor—and even if we don’t voice it, there is a hint of “you owe me” in our minds.

We do something really sacrificially loving—and believe God will reward us.

We give our love and our lives for those we love, especially for our children—knowing they can’t even comprehend our gift, much less repay it.

And if we love a prodigal—oh how that love is tested.

Unconditional: without limitations or conditions; complete.We all know that the love with which God loves us is called unconditional.  There is no verse that I can find that uses the word “unconditional.”  But we know it’s true.  Romans 5:8 tells us that even when were sinful enemies of God He loved us.  And Romans 8:38-39 assures us that nothing—not even our own actions—can separate us from His love.

Thank You, Lord, for that unconditional love.

Of course there is that one little condition—not for His love for us, but that we demonstrate our love for Him by loving as He did/does—unconditionally.

I have not done this easily.

Perhaps you could say the same.

Attitude and back talk, lack of gratitude, lies and rebellion, asking and demanding, disrespect, angry, hurtful words—expanding responses to our gifts of love.  Stabs in the heart.

For me the really hard thing was that he felt loving me would be a betrayal of his birth mother.  Over the years my love grew and gave.  Could he ever say “I love you”?

Please, Lord.

And I heard those words:  “Judy, unconditional love has no conditions.  It does not require love in return.”

It took him 12 years to say those words.  He says them often now.

Yet, still, I—and perhaps you—struggle with really loving unconditionally.   For me there are no more abusive, hurtful words.  But I can feel unappreciated and ignored—unloved.

Again I hear:  Unconditional love doesn’t require love in control.

Which of course I am not capable of—nor are you.  Which brings us back to our theme verse: “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

He gives us His unconditional love, poured out on us and in us and through us by the Holy Spirit.

Isn’t that like our loving Father:  He extravagantly, sacrificially, unconditionally loves us.  He asks us to do the impossible—to love in the same way.  Then He sends His Spirit to make the impossible possible.  He enables us to love unconditionally.

Which is such a gift for those of us who love a prodigal.

What about you?  When has loving unconditionally been especially hard?

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.