Luckily, Amy and I have some experience loving from a distance. After our sophomore year in High School in Elkhart, Indiana, where I grew up and Amy lived for several years, her dad took a job at a church in Greenville, Ohio. At that point we’d been an item for over two years and had no intention of letting up. it was about a 3 hour drive from my house to hers. I would make that drive every other weekend for the next nearly two years. I’m certain we talked most every night and did the “no you hang up first” thing often. Ah, young love……..
We had no choice but to love from a distance. Surely you understand how powerful young love can be? It wrecks your life. There’s nothing else to think about. My whole existence became to live weekend to every-other weekend, to work and save money for a ring, and make plans to marry this girl I loved from a distance. Young love is powerful.
But the truth is it pales in comparison to the love a parent has for their children. I am learning a whole new level of what it means to love from a distance. This isn’t any kind of romantic love, like Amy and I share. It’s a fierce, fatherly, protective, take-them-in-my-arms where it’s safe kind of love. To show them the security and consistency the love Amy and I have for our children provide them. Our kids in Poland don’t understand what this is yet. They’ve not felt the strength of my embrace or the warmth of Amy’s touch. We don’t have the privilege of visiting them every other weekend to help them feel what we so desperately want them to feel. They probably don’t even know about us yet. We have to love them from a distance yearning for the day we’ll be able to take them in our arm and say for the first time, in complete sincerity, honesty, and probably in Polish how much we love them and have loved them……from a distance. From 4,652 miles, to be more precise. It’s a great distance to cover.
But honestly, it’s nothing compared to the distance Father God has covered for us. Colossians tells us He (Jesus) left His very throne, His seat of power to become a lowly human like you and me. Father God wasn’t limited by time and distance and money so He sent Jesus to us….to live like us….to feel like us….to understand what our life is like….Jesus was the Father’s gift of love to his children. You see, God’s fatherly love is like my fatherly love. It’s fierce and protective and desires the best for us. Sometimes we feel love so deeply we have a hard time expressing our love to those we love in a tangible way. We buy them gifts, write notes of love or share moments of intimacy – but none of those things ever seem to be enough. But, this is how we, as humans often express our love. God is a little different. Sure, He blesses us; sure, He takes care of us; sure, we can have a powerful and meaningful relationship with Him….but He went beyond that. God demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us (love is nothing if not demonstrated). And not after we had expressed any sort of love or passion for Him, but while we were still lost. Still sinners. Still broken. Still abused. Still hurting. Still wrapped up in ourselves. And, dare I say, still orphans.
I understand God’s experience loving from a distance. Anyone who is away from Him, anyone who doesn’t believe or isn’t in relationship with the Father, God is forced to love from a distance. Knowing how my heart aches for these children I will someday meet and cuddle and hold, I can’t imagine how Father God feels loving from a distance many whom He will never have a chance to meet, cuddle, and hold (hopefully you can handle the “father” imagery of God :-)). It’s why He never gives up His pursuit of every “orphan” on this planet. He loves you so very much that before you were ever considered, ever though about by anyone on earth; before your great grandparents to the 10th power were even alive, He gave you the very best gift He could think of. It wasn’t something that would perish, spoil, or fade away by life and time…..it was something that would last the distance of eternity…..the opportunity to have a new start in this life and an eternal love of the Father that will never leave you or forsake you. It’s an inheritance better than anything this world might offer.
The truth is, we are all orphans in this life – sin has made this the case. So God remedied this problem. He adopted us. He chose us. If you’ll just believe in Him, you don’t have to be an orphan anymore….you don’t have to be loved from a distance. God will wrap His enormous Fatherly arms around you and hold you tight, heal your brokenness, and, someday, bring you into His very household. I can’t wait to do this for our kids in Poland…..I know God can’t wait to do this for you and anyone else who would come to Him.