Stories are very powerful. They can motivate us, challenge us. Stories can break our hearts and heal our hearts at the same time. So, here is a story of God’s unrelenting love:
On a beautiful, summer day in 1981, a boy named Paul was born, and Abba smiled down on His new creation. Also present—as with all births— were Jesus, who was praising the Father for His creation, and the Spirit, who lit on the child and filled him with life-giving breath. A humbling scene for sure: the Sacred Three at the birth of a mere human! And so began God’s unrelenting pursuit of this child.
The boy grew in size and in mischief. And he wasn’t alone in his mischief. He was fortunate enough to be in a family of two brothers and two sisters—each equipped with his/her own special form of naughtiness. But Paul was different. He was a typical boy in some ways: wrecking his bike on purpose, showing off for girls, etc. But he was unique in that he seemed to have spiritual maturity that went beyond his 16 years—a fact that his siblings couldn’t deny.
As the boys lay awake at night, they would make up stories—sometimes ridiculous, funny stories; at other times, deep, meaningful musings on life and death, God and humans. Paul almost always led the conversation to more spiritual discussion. Paul knew the grace and the unrelenting love of God; he knew what was important to his Abba.
He had a passion for God that was confusing to his brothers and sisters. Paul seemed to get in trouble all the time for all sorts of things, things that “good boys” shouldn’t do: smoking at school, getting bad grades, driving when he wasn’t supposed to. But when it came to God, Paul was bold and faithful, committed and unashamed. Paul looked out for the underdog—he loved the outcasts and his enemies alike. Much to the frustration of his brothers, Paul would compliment and joke with the kids that ridiculed and hurt him. At his young age, Paul was putting to practice the words of the enemy-loving Jesus.
On one particularly memorable night, Paul and his youngest brother were talking about life and death. Paul, filled with the deep love of his Abba, humbly stated, “I would give my life if one person would come to know the love of God.” His words were powerful but painful to his youngest brother. The conversation quickly ended, but those words remained deep in the hearts of both boys.
About one month later, on a Wednesday night, Paul and his sister, Mary, and youngest brother were heading to church. Earlier in the day, Paul pretended to be sick so he could get out of a test at school, but he was adamant about not missing church that night. The evening sun was nearing its final descent beneath the horizon, and its rays were blindingly bright. So bright, that as their car crossed over the highway into on-coming traffic, none of the children saw the car barreling towards them. And as the car plowed into them, his life ebbing away, Paul heard the soft, tender words of his Abba: “Come now, my love; my lovely one, come. For you, the winter has passed; the snows are over and gone; the flowers appear in the land; the season of joyful songs has come. The cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land. Come now, my love; my lovely one, come. Let Me see your face. And let Me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful. Come now, my love, my lovely one, come” (Song of Songs 2:10-14). And Paul’s broken, wounded body was, in the words of Brennan Manning, “swept up into the reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God.”
As I stated before, stories are powerful. They have the potential to change lives. And this story has changed my life. It’s the story of Abba’s furious love for my brother Paul. And for me… Because of my brother and his desire for others to know the unrelenting love of God, I now know the love he was talking about. Because of my brother’s willingness to give his life, I can experience the furious love of my Abba for me, an unworthy, broken, ragamuffin.
This inspirational word was brought to you by Matt Bailey of Grace & Main Fellowship.