How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory.
This past week I got an up close and personal view of the compelling love a father. A love that consumes and drives. A love that is desperate. A small boy, four years old was missing in San Benito Poite, the remote village where we go to teach Bible study. I was not in the village at the time, but my co-worker, Clifford, was, as well as my other co-worker’s husband, Rick. The whole village joined the search, combing the bushes around the village, searching each home, running up jungle paths. Even young people dove into the river which runs along the village, searching the depths. A year or so ago, two children from another village disappeared and have not been seen since. This family knew this. They were desperate to find that boy. I received a call, telling me of the situation. The boy had already been missing five hours. I shuddered at the thought of what could have happened. The jungle is so close, the river… right there. I prayed and cried out to God. I spread the word and others joined in prayer.
A police report had to be made by the father, which required leaving the village and travelling more than two hours to the police station in town. I can’t imagine the pain he felt when he tore himself away from the search and left to make the report. Why did he go? Because he felt it was best for his son. Maybe it would help him be found. He was desperate. Even though he would have rather kept searching, he went. My pickup was used to take him. After he went to town, they arrived briefly at my house. I saw an anguished father. Only one thought filled his mind as he twisted his ball cap in his hands: his son. I got in the pickup to join the trip back to the village, crying out to God for this man’s son as darkness closed in around the land. It gets darker sooner in the jungle.
Before we had traveled far, we received a call: the boy had been found! I watched the waves of emotion rush through that man, that father. I watched as his shoulders shook. The look of anguish gave way, but it was not sheer joy that filled his face, instead it was desperation… a desperate wish that he was there with his child right then, he wanted to see him, touch him, know that he was okay. He wanted to keep him safe; hold him tight and never let him face such fear again. We finally arrived in the village and went inside to see the boy sleeping in the arms of his mother. Relief and joy swept across the father’s face then. We stayed only long enough to make sure all was well, then slipped away to let the family rejoice together.
We were fairly quiet as we traveled back, each absorbed in the thoughts and emotions of the situation. It wasn’t until the next day that Clifford voiced what had been tugging the edges of my thoughts: that father’s desperate love showed us a little glimpse of our heavenly Father’s desperate love for His children, and the anguish He must feel when one goes astray. Oh, He never has to wonder where they are, and He knows the outcome, but that desperate willingness to do anything to bring His children back is the same. After all, His love drove Him to give His Son to bring us back to Him. What amazing love!
Which brings me to 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For the love of Christ controls us…” Depending on the version you read, you will find that the love of Christ constrains, compels, and controls us. It is to be the driving force of our life, that thing that constrains us from doing certain things, but compels us to do others. Controlled by the love of Christ. I thought of this as I sat in the home of a pastor. He was speaking of the difficulties another church was facing, and said he wished he could help, but he had tried before and it seemed they didn’t want help. “I think,” he said, “it is better I just stay to myself and let them see what they will do.” My heart cringed inside. I could feel where he was coming from, I could understand the feeling of trying to help and having that help rejected… but God… Oh, how God loves us. He never gives up because we rejected His help. He woos us when we refuse to be wooed. He loves us when we are unlovely. And it is His love that is to control us. How then, Lord, am I to love those that don’t seem to want it? Teach me Your love.
Friday as we traveled along the highway, we came across a man passed out on the road, clearly very drunk and beyond ability to move around. Knowing how vehicles fly along that highway, we realized he could be run over there on the road, we have heard of it happening. We stopped and as I watched Clifford help the man off the road, dirty, smelly, and stuff coming out of his mouth, I thought of people who are in a condition like that spiritually. It is hard to love them. Maybe they are clean and nice on the outside, but spiritually they are as repulsive to us as that man was on the outside. Whether through their judgmental pride, their rejection of us, or hurtful things they have said, they have become hard for us to love. How Lord? How can I love them? I want to be controlled by Your love, fill me. Help me.