I’ve been at this bible study/teaching/preaching for some time now.  I believe I am pretty well versed (pun intended) on the topic of God’s unconditional love.  Both Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of the Almighty’s undying desire to call broken and lost sinners back to Him.  When faced with the pain, suffering and confusion of those I have the privilege to minister to, I often extend God’s comfort through His promise to never leave or forsake us.  No matter how dark the moment or deep the pain, His love can give us hope when all seems lost.

I am amazed even as I look over the paragraph above.  I mean, how is it that God’s unconditional love can be offered to me? I have been a screw-up of major proportions, both in my life before I came to know Jesus as Savior and sometimes since then, too. Yet, I am assured of an unfailing love that calls me to eternal life; simply because it is His will to do so.  I know both in my heart and in an academic sense that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ has made this possible.  It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him!  His love is absolute and unconditional.  I cannot earn and certainly don’t deserve it, but it is extended to me (and all of us) without reservation.

Knowing in my ‘knower’ this to be true, I still find myself struggling with the application of it from time to time; especially in regard to showing the love of God to others.  Ministry is not complicated: Love God and be a conduit for His love to flow from me into others.  However, if I am being honest, there are more than a few times when I pass judgment rather than love.  I too often find myself being critical of others instead of offering grace.  The bottom line is this: In the day to day struggles and challenges of life, I do not always recognize or even look for God’s unconditional love in the world around me.

Thankfully, one event in my life this past week has more fully opened my eyes and my heart to God’s unconditional love.  It is through the puppy my wife and I brought home that I find myself more aware of and grateful for God’s continuous care of me.  ‘Violet’ has been a wonderful example of both giving and receiving love unconditionally over these last seven days.  With only a slight change, I am finding the old adage to be true: A new dog can teach an old dog new tricks!

It took Violet all of about two hours to become bonded with my wife and me.  With food served at regular intervals, plenty of walks outside to work on potty-training and lots of time on the floor playing with toys, we watched her love for us grow before our eyes.  Even when she was loudly reprimanded for getting into the modem wires, the love never left her.  Violet simply loves us, all the time.  The correlation to the love described in the Bible is clear: God loves us because He is love.  The Scriptures then tell us we can return love to Him: We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

Much as Betsy and I didn’t have to earn Violet’s love, God’s love should not be viewed as ‘a carrot on stick’ either.  I for one am so very glad for the way God loves us.  Far too many live under a dark cloud, realizing that their life’s choices are not necessarily right or healthy, and condemning themselves for it.  It becomes easy to believe the lie that you are not worthy of God’s love, and the self-loathing perpetuates.

The mis-conception so many are under is that God loves like we do.  We equate human, imperfect love with His holy and faultless love.  Because we see love through our human paradigm, our understanding of God’s love is skewed.  Our experience tells us that to love is often risky and many times downright painful.  Once broken, the human heart can never fully heal itself.  What a blessing that God’s heart doesn’t operate like ours!

His unconditional love is always there.  We here on earth are left to respond to it in one of two ways: We either joyfully accept His gift of love or we ignore it.  The first option is obviously my counsel.  When one can truly allow themselves to be loved by God, attitudes and outlooks change for the better.  Those things that used to consume us with worry can be seen in a clearer light.  Realizing God’s love gives us a new and better perspective on the events of life.  Ignoring or denying this heavenly love leads only downward, toward bitterness and despair.  Life lived outside of the Almighty’s love is ultimately futile.  There simply are not enough shiny things, money or fancy vacations that can fill the void that is in you.

If you are struggling with some facet of God’s love, might I suggest you too experience some ‘puppy love.’ No, I’m not saying go listen to Donnie and Marie Osmond’s song with that title.  Rather, allow yourself to simplify your understanding of what God’s love is.  That’s what Violet has been showing me and honestly, I have a greater grasp of, and deeper appreciation of how, God shows His love because of it.  Allowing yourself to accept God’s love isn’t always easy, but it need not be complicated.  Remember He loves you first and always, no matter what.  Your job is to respond to that love.  I’ve got to stop for now, someone needs to go outside!

One thought on “What my Puppy is Teaching me about God’s Unconditional Love

  1. Very well said! \o/
    It is good to see God’s fingerprints on our life and on those in our life. As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Rome; “…his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Romans 1:20 ESV

    Liked by 1 person

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