Love chases us down

Published 7:05 pm Friday, February 15, 2019

By Nathan Decker

Love ever gives.

Forgives, outlives,

And ever stands

With open hands.

And while it lives,

It gives,

For this is love’s perogative —

To give, and give, and give”

– John Oxenham upon seeing the Pacific Ocean

A father loves. The story from Luke 15 we often call the story of the prodigal son is really a story about a father more than the sons. The father loves — even when his young son wishes him dead to collect the inheritance. The father loves — even when his older son rejects his brother. The father hurts because a father loves. The father keeps repeating a single phrase in love “lost but now found.”

Most of us know what that’s like, to experience that kind of love. A son who comes home to find his mother waited up for him even though it is way too many hours after curfew. She is in tears instead of angry, relief. Like a spouse who has been caught cheating only to see tears instead of anger in the eyes of their beloved. A dad who works himself to death all so that his children will have a better chance than he had, regret at the cost of time and memories. A betrayed friend who is still by our side even though we don’t deserve it. “Lost but now found.”

The Hebrews described God’s love as ‘hesed.’ God’s love is a steadfast love — one that never gives up on us. It is a chasing love — one that refuses to leave us alone. We describe God’s love as prevenient — God’s active love coming before we’ve even had a chance to make a mistake. A sacrificing love — one that gives all for us.

During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to happen at the ringing of the curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier’s fiancée had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched and he said, “Your love shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!”

Jesus is telling us about the love God has for us. This is important for us to hear because we need to hear about God’s love. The world knows what is wrong and right. We don’t need reminded of a list of moral behaviors. What we need reminded of is how to love like God loves. To the runaways, the sinners, the disobedient — God waits for you to come home. To the hardworking, the diligent, the faithful — God waits for you to come inside and join the welcome home party for those who we judge as less than worthy. God chooses to begin, end and everywhere in between love. God refuses to give up on us. God actively waits for us to come home. God is love, and this love chases us.

God asks us to not give up on each other. Some are lost … that doesn’t mean we can’t be found. See people’s potential more than the brokenness of their lives. God wants us to actively wait for one another to come home and join the party. All can be found … that requires us to welcome one another. See people’s future redemption as a part of our own redemption. God is love, and this love is in each of us to share. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

We have to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”

– Luke 15:32


NATHAN DECKER is the pastor at High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367.