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.
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!)
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.
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.
God only knows why He put so many of this world’s most precious commodities in such hard-to-get-at places. If it was to test our wills—to see to what lengths we would be willing to go and what price we would be willing to pay to get to them—it worked.
Whether probing for oil beneath the deserts of the Middle East or within the Arctic Circle, or plunging into the subterranean dark and cold to mine for gold, diamonds, and other precious metals and gems, the most determined of us brave some of the world’s harshest conditions and risk life and limb to get to the source and strike it rich.
I know you, I see you, and I care about you. I care about each of your heartbreaks. I care about how you feel. I care about what you think. I care about the difficulties and hardships that you face. I care about your children. I care about your afflictions. I care about your struggles with finances. I care about your housing situation and your material needs. I care about your children’s needs and the repairs that are coming due. I care about your spiritual struggles.
When asked which was the greatest of God’s commandments, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind [and] love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”1
My daughter Kristen is a celebrity. Has been since birth. My wife and I follow her every move and document her moods, faces, and actions. We talk about her a lot and share stories about her funny habits or latest tastes. We give her our support and care, and do our best to protect her from harm. She has all our attention, even in the middle of the night, and we get up eager to see what she’ll do in the new day. Her laugh always makes us smile, and her tears spur us to remedy situations. To us, she’s the best.