My daughter and I spend a lot of time in the car together. She's my little tag-along. I drop her off at daycare and then pick her up again. She goes with me to run errands and attends meetings, practices, and a lot of other events with me. Sometimes on our drives she stares out the window hoping to catch sight of an airplane or a train. Other times I can look back and see her little head bopping along with the radio.
Recently, on our way home from the library, I heard Hawk Nelson's song, "Live Like You're Loved". If you haven't heard it yet, it goes a little something like this:
I looked in the rear-view mirror at my little girl in the back seat. I started to wonder, does she know that she's loved? I try to do things to let her know I love her. I take her to the park, we sit down and color together, and I try to have pizza or pink ice cream for dinner occasionally because I know they're her favorites. But does she know I do these things because I love her, or does she just assume it's my job because I'm her mom?
So I asked her, "Do you know you're loved?" She wasn't quite sure how to answer, but it was obvious I had piqued her interest. So I asked instead, "Did you know Mommy loves you?". She smiled and shook her head yes. Then I asked, "Did you know Daddy loves you?", and again she agreed. When I asked her, "Did you know Grandma loves you?" she got very excited. She had just spent the weekend with Grandma so she was eager to tell me again about all the exciting things they had done. After she had finished her story I told her "Grandma did all those things with you because she loves you! Did you know that?". She sat back and kind of let that sink in for a little bit.
The next time I heard the song I asked again, "Do you know you're loved?". Again, she wasn't really sure how to answer. She had not had a good day at daycare (we're on month 4 of potty training), so I asked her, "Did you know Ms. Nancy loves you?". She didn't get as excited as she did with Grandma, but she could still agree that our daycare provider loved her. I continued on, "Ms. Nancy and I are disappointed when you wet your pants, but we still love you." Again, my daughter had to sit back and let this sink in.
This has now become a regular occurrence. As soon as Hawk Nelson finishes the last line of their song I ask my daughter, "Do you know you're loved?" Each time we talk about the different people that love her. I know there will be times when she will be angry at me. She will think I am the worst mother in the world (and will probably tell me so at least once or twice). I may tell her 100 times that I love her, but her anger will temporarily blind her. I want her to know before those times come that she is loved by so many different people. Her being loved is not dependent on any one person. It's not dependent upon people at all.
God loves her. And we talk about it. No matter what she's done, God's love isn't based on her failures or achievements. It's based on God himself. It's who he is and it's what he does. I don't ever want her to think she has run so far that God won't welcome her back.
Maybe none of this makes sense to you. Maybe you don't feel loved yourself.
Luke 15:11-22 tells the story of a man with two sons. One son lived faithfully with his father, toiling over his fields. The other son took his inheritance from his father and left to chase after his wild desires. After wasting all of his money he took a job feeding slop to pigs. He was so broke and so hungry that he wished he could eat the very food he was feeding to the animals. He eventually decided to face his shame and ask his father to let him come home as a servant. Not only did the father let him come back home, he threw a great feast in celebration.
This is how God feels about you.
No matter how low you feel you have sunk, God is waiting for you to come home. You just have to make the decision to come. He doesn't look around and say, "I already have all these good and faithful sons, what could I do with you?" No. He sees that you are lost and desperately wants you to be found.
If you are feeling lost and unloved, maybe it's time to come home. Let me share with you the "A,B,Cs" that I learned in Vacation Bible School as a child.
A - Admit to God that you have made mistakes. You have done things you know He does not want you to do. Those things are called sins. Tell God that you have sinned and that you are sorry for those things.
B - Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He came to Earth in human form and willingly died on the cross to take the punishment for your sins. Then, after laying in a tomb for three days, he rose from the dead. You can ask Jesus to be your savior because he is alive!
C - Confess your faith in Christ Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Tell God that you want to be his follower. You want to live your life as Christ did. This in no way means that you will suddenly become a perfect Christian, because you are still human and you will still make mistakes. But your focus will have shifted. No longer will you be absorbed in making yourself happy, but instead, aim to do things that make God happy.
After you've told these things to God (I promise, he is listening), tell someone. Find a church, a pastor, or even a Christian who lives down the street. Let them know the decision you've made and seek guidance on how to continue to grow as a Christian.
And don't forget to live like you're loved. Because you are!