Missing the Heart

My husband texted me a simple question while he was at dance class with our girls last Saturday morning: "Would you be okay if I went to play golf this afternoon?" Our two-month-old was going through a bit of a growth spurt and I didn't get great sleep the night before. I was also feeling a little emotional, and my head hurt from all the wonderful blooming going on outside. 

I felt I should say "yes," because that's what a good and unselfish wife would do (I thought), but my heart felt weak and needed him at home. Instead of saying, "I'd love for you to be able to go, but today isn't the best day," I hemmed around for some time. We've grown enough in our short seven years of marriage that he picked up on my clues and let me know that he didn't want to do anything that would leave me tired and distraught at home with the three kids.

I wondered why I had such a hard time letting him know what I wanted. He is my provider and he looks out for my needs ahead of his own, so why didn't I just let him know what I needed? I assumed that he would be annoyed that I needed him at home, but I missed the mark. I didn't put my trust in his heart for me. 

I began to think about how, if I do this with my husband who loves me well, but imperfectly, I must do the same thing with my heavenly Father. God leaves no doubt about His love for us, but we just don't trust it, or maybe we just don't know Him well enough to trust Him. 

In the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, there's a really good picture of two sons who didn't grasp their father's heart. One is a complete mess. He runs away and wastes his share of the inheritance (asking for it even before his father is gone). When he decides to return home, he assumes his father will be just generous enough to let him be a servant in the house--if he apologizes just right. He underestimates the love of the father, who has been waiting and longing for his return as a son. Without waiting long enough for his son to finish his apology speech, the father welcomes his son back, no questions asked, with an embrace, a ring, a robe, and a lavish party.

The older son is steaming mad when his father welcomes back his black sheep brother. How could the father make such a fool of himself? Love shouldn't be so free. This son has lived under that same love his whole life, but feels like he has earned it by being a good son. He doesn't realize that His father's love is not just for him, and it's not conditional on how good of a son he is. The father tells him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours." 

Just like I misunderstand my loving husband's motives, and just like these two sons underestimated their father's grace, I misunderstand God's loving heart. How does God feel about us? He's clear:

Isaiah 62:5b "and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you." 

Zephaniah 3:17
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness; 
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

Romans 5:8
"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 8:1

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Like the younger son, we miss God's heart when we are slow to bring our needs to Him and fail to realize that all He has is ours in Christ. We miss His heart when we distance ourselves from Him because we feel we've failed or disappointed Him.

Like the older son, we miss God's heart when we think our relationship with Him depends on what we do or don't do.  We miss His heart when we don't lavish grace and forgiveness on other people when they've messed up or disappointed us. 

I want to press in and know Him more, like He knows me. I want to be like Him. My heart often feels all closed up to this lavish love, like the buds of spring encased in their waxy coverings until the sun lures them open. 

One day we'll see Him as He is and fully know his love. And I think we'll burst for the pure joy of it. 

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).

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