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Have you ever noticed how much better you feel about everything in your life when you know you are loved by someone – your spouse, a parent, your child, or friends? Such love can give us strength to live life with more confidence and joy.
Yet, as powerful as human love can be, it is nothing compared to the mighty power of God’s love. Paul writes in many different ways about how much God loves us. For example, in Romans 5:8, it is written, “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (see also Romans 8:35 ff., Ephesians 5:1-2, Colossians 3:14). God wants us to know without any doubt that we are loved with a complete love that loves us unconditionally. God loves us in spite of our quirks and idiosyncrasies. God’s love can take us, with all our quirks, and transform us, heart, mind, and soul, into people worthy to be called God’s children. And when we know we are loved, and have the love of God in our hearts, we become powerful tools for God to spread God’s love to others who are searching for the love they need. To illustrate the truth of this, I share with you this story to simply remind you of the power of love to transform lonely and despairing people. Miss Thompson was a conscientious teacher, who tried to treat all her students the same. But there was one boy, Teddy, who was very difficult for her to even like. He didn’t seem interested in school, did poorly on school work and he had a terrible attitude. In first grade he had shown promise, but there were some home problems. In second grade his mother had become ill, and he began to fall behind. In third grade his mother died, and he was labeled a slow learner. In fourth grade he fell farther behind as his father showed no interest in him. She knew his background, but that didn’t seem to matter, for he simply rubbed her the wrong way. As Christmas came, some of the children brought gifts. Among them was a crudely wrapped present from Teddy. She unwrapped the gifts in class, and when she got to Teddy’s she received a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half of the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The kids immediately began to giggle, but somehow Miss Thompson had the presence of mind to put on the bracelet and open the perfume, and “ooh” about their beauty. At the end of the day Teddy came up to Miss Thompson and said, “Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother, and her bracelet looks real pretty on you, too. I’m glad you like my presents.” When Teddy left she asked for forgiveness for her attitude and thanked God for her chance to show love. After that day both Miss Thompson and Teddy turned everything around. Many years later, Miss Thompson received a letter from Teddy that told how he had graduated second in his high school class. Four years later he wrote another letter that he had graduated college first in his class. Four more years later he wrote that he was a medical doctor and was getting married. His father was dead and he wondered if she would sit in his mother’s place? He wrote, “You are all the family I have left, now.” At the wedding she remembered that moment of sensitivity and compassion that changed his life. Can you remember receiving love from someone in a special way that changed your life? Take time to tell that story to someone and give glory to God. Is there someone God has put in your life right now that needs to be loved because they are going through a hard time? Why is it so hard for people to love each other? Is your faith strong enough to give you the courage to love anyway? The truth of our faith is that God loves us more than we can ever imagine. When we know the truth of God’s love, then the truth shall set us free. Al Earley is the pastor at La Grange Presbyterian Church. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.