Life was not always easy with my father when I was growing up. Let’s just say he made many decisions along the way that led to fear, anger, and sadness for my family and me. Unfortunately, I was the only one in the family that would years later truly forgive him for his actions. My mother and sister held onto the resentment and anger they felt all their lives. For my father and I, reconciliation led to several years of a deepening relationship before his passing in 2011.
Forgiveness is not easy and I do not consider myself better or stronger because I was able to forgive and my family members could not. However, I can say that the blessings I received due to forgiveness and a renewed relationship with my father were far better than the animosity experienced by others. I also learned that forgiveness benefited me far more than my father.
As good stewards of time, we must realize that each passing day will never come again. What we do with that time is completely up to us. We can be wise and use it to build bridges, heal wounds, and cultivate love where there is hate. We can also choose to waste time in fear, resentment, and anger. I thank God often for the gift of my dad. However, I thank God more for the gift of time spent with him and the ability to see him not with my human eyes, but with the eyes of Jesus.
When I was very young, my mom would take me to see my great-grandmother at the nursing home where she resided. Her name was Mamie and she was a tough character, so I’m told. She dipped snuff and when she kissed me it would run down my cheek and mom would have to clean it up. My memories of those visits are in blurred snippets, but when I entered her room she would always exclaim to me, “I love you! I love you! I love you!”
That’s how I knew her and remembered her and so I began calling her “I love you”. As a result, all other great-grandchildren born after me called her that too. I didn’t give this much thought growing up and into my adult years, that was just our name for her – one beautiful sentence.
Though my great-grandmother has long passed, my grandmother is still living and may be in her last days. Visiting her recently got me thinking about “I love you” and it reminded me of another One whose name is also a beautiful sentence. When God asked Moses to confront Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses asks God what to say to them when they ask who sent him. God’s reply was “I am who I am.” “Tell them ‘I AM has sent me to you.’
We read in the First Letter of John that “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” The very nature of God is love. That’s who He is. And we see in the Scriptures a God relentlessly pursuing a relationship with us and saying over and over again in one way or another: “I love you! I love you! I love you!”
In addition to “I AM” there are other names for God in the Bible – YHWH, Elohim, Adonai, Father – and though “I love you” is not among them, it is certainly expressed in His life and His desire for us. And if someone ever asks you who God is, “I love you” would be one beautiful response.