He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 12: Living Less-Loved
In this incredible story, when do you think the father loved his son the most? Every time I share this story I ask people that question. Almost always the first answers select the moment where the father meets the son on the road. After a bit more thought, however, some suggest it might be when the father gives him his inheritance and lets him go. Only then does it become clear: there is no point in the story where the father loved his son more than at any other point. He loved him completely through the whole process. It is the only constant in the story.
The events in this story cannot be accounted for by the varying love of the father-only the varying perception of it by the son. Though he was not less-loved at any point in the story, through most of it he lives as if he was.
When he took the money from his father and stormed off the farm grateful to be out from under his clutches and free to pursue his own way, he lived less-loved.
When he spent this money in a foreign land, wasting it on his own pleasures and thinking he'd finally fooled his father, he lived less-loved.
Even when he started for home practicing his plea of repentance, willing only to be a slave to a father who had sought a son, he lived less-loved.
But finally, when he's home in the robe, the sandals, and the ring , sitting at his father's table sinking his teeth into the filet mignon, it finally sinks in. He is loved. But he always was! It's just that now he can stop living as if he wasn't.
Most of our lives are spent living less-loved.
When we worry that God will ask us for some horrible sacrifice, we live less-loved.
When we indulge ourselves in sin, we live less-loved.
When we give into anxiety in the crush of our circumstances, we live less-loved.
When we try to earn God's favor by our own efforts, we live less-loved.
Even when we get caught up in religious obligations to make ourselves acceptable to him, we live less-loved.
That is the story of the older brother. At the end of the story he is so angry at his father for receiving his wayward brother home, he refuses to come to the house and join the celebration. He had stayed with his father, never having run off to pursue his own aims, but still missed out on the relationship his father wanted with him.
Though a son, he saw himself only as a slave and every request of his father as an onerous chore. The first son represents those who run from God by indulging their own selfish pursuits; the older son represents those who work hard to impress God with their commitment. Fearful of the consequences of not doing so, they slave away for him. But they never come to the depth of relationship the Father wants with them. The Pharisees in Jesus' day were like that as are many people today who are caught up in a host of religious activities, but miss out on what it really means to live in the Father's love.
In the long run it doesn't matter whether rebellion or religion keep you from a vibrant relationship with the Father, the result is still the same. He is cheated out of the relationship he wants with you, and you never come to know how he feels about you.
Jesus ends the story at an interesting point. The younger son is in the house enjoying his new-found relationship with his father. The older son is still outside weighing his options. Will he come to know just how much he is loved and join the celebration, or will he remain convinced of his father's unfairness and remain outside angry and alone?
The choice is his-and it is yours! Everything about your life hinges on the answer to one simple question. Do you know how loved you really are? Isn't it about time you found out?
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:17-19