I’ve always had a soft spot for that older son in the prodigal son story. You know, the one who stays behind and dutifully tends to his chores. I could see that he wasn’t morally spot on in his reaction to his brother’s return and the party, but I did really see his point of view, if I were to be honest. That’s because I am motivated by justice (or at least, by what I view as justice) and not so much by love –love which would have delighted in a brother’s reform over a selfish nit-picking about what is due to me.
I get that he isn’t a paragon of love, but I understand him. I am him.
I’ve been reading a book called Be Healed by Bob Schuchts, a lay Catholic therapist who founded the St John Paul II Healing Center. The book itself is extraordinarily thick with implications for my life, and it would take multiple posts to cover all that I’ve learned. But here is the most recent idea that he posits: the prodigal son story is about two ways of searching for the love of the father. This search is something we all have done ever since the Fall.
The rebellious son feels unworthy of the father’s love and despairs of ever being able to attain worthiness. He runs from his father’s love, exhibiting all kinds of outwardly destructive behaviors stemming from his despair.
The other son also feels unworthy of his father’s love, but he tries to attain it via accomplishments. He clothes his inward insecurity with achievements and good behavior in an effort to be worthy of love.
Neither one rests securely in his identity as beloved son.
Why, dear reader, is it so hard to believe in God’s love? Oh, I know we all know he loves us. But do we know it truly, does it form the identity of who we are? Is it written over all of our cells? Does it provide the foundation for every choice?
As I contemplated this in church today, this simple phrase came to mind regarding God’s love.
He loves because He loves.
He loves because of who He is. Somehow that’s a peaceful notion to me. I and my imperfections are completely taken out of the equation. His love is independent of anything other than Himself, who is the great I AM, the I AM who is and who was and who will always be.
Imagine if we were to wrap ourselves up in that kind of thinking! What if we went to bed every night saying, “He loves because He loves” and woke up every morning with the first thought, “He loves because He loves.” Perhaps we could then start believing in His love down to our very core. Did your mouth get you into trouble today? Guess what? He loves because He loves. Did you accidentally miss an appointment? He loves because He loves. Did you drown your sadness in chocolate? He.loves.because.He.loves.
Stop searching for his love. Rest in it, friend. He loves because He loves.
Copyright 2018 Amanda Woodiel
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