God’s unconditional love has no bounds, is unchanging and without limitations. It is given freely, no matter what. Each of us has sinned, and sin brings separation from God. Nevertheless, God loves us. It doesn’t mean He loves all that we do, but He loves us. In fact, He loves humanity so much that He made it possible for the breach caused by our sins and wrongdoing to be bridged through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”1
When I think about how to sum up who God is in a single phrase, “unconditional love” comes to mind. Of course, God is many things and cannot be confined to one phrase or term, but as we know from 1 John 4:8, God is love. That is His very nature; it is intrinsic to who He is. It is one of His fundamental character traits. While that doesn’t mean that He loves everything we do—we are sinners, after all—nor that He overlooks or turns a blind eye to our sin or wrongdoing, nonetheless He loves His children unconditionally and forgives us if we are humble enough to ask Him to.
Each year, when Easter comes around, I find myself overwhelmed by the thought of what Jesus went through for us. So much suffering, anguish, and pain He took in the hours before His cruel execution. Not to mention the mental distress of knowing what was coming. Yes, He knew the purpose behind it all, but it was clearly still terrifying. In fact, Jesus requested an exemption from the cross.1
When my youngest was a toddler, each night I would put her to sleep in her own bed. Sometimes this was an easy job and my tired little one would be asleep in minutes; sometimes it was a hardcore showdown of her stubbornness against mine. But always, eventually, she would end up peacefully asleep. (Mom won!)
I’ve always especially liked Easter. While Christmas is a celebration of joy and excitement for the entire world to take pleasure in—even non-Christians—I feel Easter is a celebration of what Jesus did for each of us as individuals.
Easter is all about the relationship between Jesus and me. As a child, I never understood this relationship. Jesus was my friend, sure, but it didn’t really go beyond that. I guess I sort of saw Jesus as a “get out of jail free” card, someone who was there to be leaned on, but only when necessary.
The other day, I found myself sitting in a restaurant alone, as my friend was running late. As I waited, I decided to jot down some thoughts about what Jesus means to me and what I love most about Him. This is what I came up with:
Never think that I’m far from you. Never think that I’ll tire of you. I don’t judge you by how much you accomplish or by what good works you do. I don’t compare you with others. I look at your heart and the love you have for Me and others. Those are the important things in My eyes—not your good works or efforts for self-improvement.
My family and I once drove up to the top of Pikes Peak, the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains. Around 14,000 feet above sea level, we took in the breathtaking views of winding mountaintop lakes, rock formations, forests, and soaring mountains on all sides. The whole scene has been etched into our family’s collective memory, to be shared over and over.
I think I was about 14 when I had my first roller coaster experience. Why in the world am I doing this?! I remember thinking, as my wagon chugged up to that first drop-off and my blood drained into my feet. Then began the heart-thumping succession of extreme ups and downs with no stopping place, no exit. My only option was to hold on for dear life and finish the course.
Did you know that parking lots at midnight can be very romantic? I’m talking about the romance I experienced with Jesus while walking in a parking lot.
I needed to get some daily exercise and I only had two options: either go to the air-conditioned gym or walk in the warm outdoors. Since I get cold easily, I chose walking outside in the heat. However, I found that even for me, there’s a limit to the heat I can take. So since it was a very hot time of year, I had to wait until it was cooler outdoors—which turned out to be close to midnight.