She sat with her back up to the tree, feeling the vibrancy of life there. She heard the grass whisper as He came and sat across from her. She gave Him a tired smile.
“You don’t seem as joyful as I wish you to be.” There was a silent question in His statement. She shrugged and averted her eyes. He studied her. “You still don’t believe your worth.”
She sighed and met His gaze briefly before looking back at the ground and picking a blade of grass to start splitting. “How could I? I’m utterly depraved, born into sin and evil. I don’t deserve good things. I deserve your wrath.”
“Have I ever told you that?”
She shook her head and met His gaze as a tear slid down her cheek. She read many emotions there; deep compassion and love, a great sorrow and even a hint of anger, although the latter not directed towards her. It was silent for a beat as He seemed to be thinking. “Jennifer, my beloved, tell me something.”
She loved how He said her name. It was as if every time He said it, she was being made anew, recreated in a love deeper then she could even attempt to fathom. There was a deepness to it that caused her soul to ache joyfully for something she couldn’t quite pinpoint. She waited for Him to continue.
“Think back to the very first time you saw your children. Describe for me what you felt and thought.”
Joy bubbled from the very bottom of her being and she laughed a bit, closed her eyes for a second and smiled, letting these scenes drift into her mind. “I remember Little Buddy being the most beautiful baby I had ever laid eyes on. I couldn’t believe the little one in front of me was mine! And I loved him from the very depths of my being at first glance.” His eyes danced with joy as if He too felt the same way about her little son, and was pleased that she was so happy. She continued, “And Baby Girl. She was so precious to me. I remember that she was crying so pitifully and my heart just broke with the love I had for her. I remember stroking her cheek and whispering my love to her, and that I would always be there for her, and she stopped crying when I did that. I knew she was mine and that I would do everything I could for her. I love them both so much.” She smiled warmly as she thought about her kids.
He grinned affectionately, but raised an eyebrow and said, “So would you say they deserve your love?”
She frowned thoughtfully. “Well….that’s an odd question. They haven’t done anything to deserve or not deserve my love… I love them because they are my children.”
He leaned back onto His elbows and surveyed her. “So what you’re saying is that they are loved as they are, come what may, because they are your children, because they belong to you?”
“Yeah….” she was starting to see where He was going.
“Let me ask you a different question. Remember the time Little Buddy got into some major trouble, and he felt so bad about his mistake that he told you that you should just make him go to hell?” A great sadness rose in her chest as she remembered that day. “What did you think when he said that to you? He had made a pretty big mistake, and you had every right to be mad. What happened in that moment though?”
She closed her eyes, and fought back tears. “It tore my heart in two. To hear him say that, and to hear how much he hated himself broke my heart to pieces. I just wanted to pick him up and love on him so very much that he wouldn’t ever have to question again how worthy of love and forgiveness he is. I love him, and even at my maddest, I would fight for him. Never against him.”
“Jennifer. Does he deserve my wrath? Even if he never comes to me?” She scrunched her eyes together and started crying. Cold voices shouted answers she didn’t want to hear. He said her name again, “Jennifer. My Jennifer. What does your mama’s heart say? What does that fierce love in you for him say?”
She practically shouted as she sobbed, “No!! He doesn’t deserve your wrath!!! If anything he needs your love!!! How could you make him, with all the struggles he has, and send him to hell if he doesn’t believe just the right thing? How is that compassionate? How is that unconditional love?! I love him so much I could die to show him that, so if you’re Love, how could you not feel that way too?”
She pulled her knees to her chest, put her head between them and sobbed. After her crying was spent, she felt him move closer to her. “Jennifer….remember love…..” Her name came as a gentle song to her heart, and she knew Him. She knew God as Love. In a flash, she saw him come and be born messy in a manger of scandal. She watched him love and laugh and cry and be magnificently human, and she watched him suffer. She watched him brutally suffer at the hands of evil men, and watched him offer nothing but forgiveness in return. There was no wrath of God to be found – only the wrath of men who couldn’t accept a God who loved so unconditionally. She watched and cried as he died and she felt the weight of humanity’s sin against their Creator. She had forgotten where she was until she felt Him brush the side of her cheek with the back of his hand. She startled and looked into the eyes of her resurrected Lord. Love had conquered even death, and turned it upside down.
She sighed and with resolve said, “I’m sorry. I trust you with him. I know you love him, and I’m really not worried about your wrath towards him.”
He smiled softly at her. “And yet, you worry about my wrath towards you?”
She smiled sheepishly. “Okay, point made.”
“Not yet, Beloved. That night that Little Buddy said those terrible things about himself, were you able to convince him of your love for him and his worth?”
She shook her head. “No, he couldn’t accept it. He was so miserable too, and I would have done anything to make him see that what he believed wasn’t true. But I couldn’t.”
He looked at her solemnly. “My sweet Jennifer, don’t you see? It too is your lack of belief in my unconditional, persevering love that keeps you cut off from the fullness of joy that I have to offer you. There is no wrath from me, as you fear. Just as you love your children fiercely because they are yours, you too are worthy and well-loved because you are mine! Your inherent light and worth are created and guarded in my love for you, so that nothing you do or don’t do can drive me away. I love you as you are, and will always strive with you.”
“But I mess up so often!”
“You are human, love. Not meant to be perfect, but meant to grow and learn. I’ve given you grace for all the falls, just as you give your children grace when they mess up. Being human is not a bad thing. I made you and I have called you good. I delight in you and love you because you are mine, and that is where your worth is found – and nothing takes that away from you.”
She smiled as He pulled her on to her feet and laughed, “Let’s dance!”