As a child, my dad was definitely my hero. It didn’t matter to me that he did crazy things or that his “practical jokes” often offended other people. He was my dad, and there wasn’t anything he could do to make me stop admiring him.
Even when his music-listening habits interfered with my sleep…
We lived on the top two floors of a 9-story apartment complex. While all the other floors had two apartments each, our apartment occupied all of the 8th and the 9th floors. We lived on the 8th floor, and the 9th floor was where my dad had his office, where he met up with potential buyers, and where he would go to Relax. Especially after us kids had gone to bed.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with relaxing after your kids go to bed, and there is nothing inherently wrong with relaxing in the way he chose to relax: Listening to music. Unfortunately for the rest of the occupants of that particular apartment building, my dad would play his records and tapes…at very high volumes, often with the windows open!
Of course, the window to the room shared by my brother and I would also be open; and the first person’s sleep to be disturbed would also be mine! After months and months of not getting any sleep due to his loud music, my mom gave us ear plugs so we could sleep.
In retrospect, I realize how selfish my dad must have been. Besides my brother and I, the neighbours all complained as well. Unfortunately, none of these complaints fazed him. It was, after all, his apartment, and he felt he had the right to listen to music at any volume and at any time of the day or night that he chose. His response was to play his music even louder.
None of this mattered to me, however. He was my dad, I loved him, warts and all, and he knew it.
That, my friends, is unconditional love.
And it is a beautiful example of God’s love for us: “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10 NIV).
So often we make choices that hurt God. Our hurt His children, they destroy His beautiful and perfect creation, and they drive us farther from Him and make it harder for us to hear His voice. We choose to walk in unforgiveness and in pride. We feel we are entitled to certain things from God, and we get angry with Him when we don’t receive them.
Despite all of this, however, in the same way that I still admired my dad despite his selfish behaviours that drove me to wear ear plugs at night, there is nothing we can do that will make God stop loving us: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10 NIV). He is always there, arms open wide, waiting patient for us, His prodigal children, to return home (See Luke 15:11-32). He sends us reminders, messages, even discipline; yet even if we ignore all of these, He is still there, impatient for us to turn away from our prideful and our selfish ways: “Who is a God like who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18 NIV).
Much later in life, my dad had a brain tumour, one that resulted in his untimely death three years later. We noticed a softening in my dad after this diagnosis. His fierce sense of entitlement seemed to have abated, and slowly but surely, the opinions of others began to matter. I would see him look at me sometimes, and I could read sorrow and regret on his face. Was he remembering the many times when I couldn’t sleep due to his loud music? Did he regret pridefully turning it up instead of putting the needs of others first? I believe that he did.
It was also during these months that my dad finally gave his heart to God. If I had turned my back on him through those selfish years, would he have ever come to the point that he regretted his actions? I don’t know the answer to that question; but I do know that if I had looked on my dad as anything less than my beloved hero, I would never have been able to have a relationship with him.
In the same way, if God were to turn away from us, we would never turn to Him. Instead, He loves us despite our faults, and He continues to put chance after chance in our path to woo us to Him. I don’t have any statistics on this, but I often wonder if the majority of Christians would have ever turned to God if it weren’t for His unconditional, unselfish, unequalled love, that same love that drove Him to a cruel, cruel cross: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV).
What will you do in the face of such pure, potent, unconditional love? Will you, like my dad, turn away from your selfishness and come to Him? That is what He longs for you to do: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV).
Think about it! If you need some help in coming to the Lord, click here!
And while you’re at it, remember this story the next time you are around someone who purposefully does things that bother you. Why not show them a little of God’s unconditional love? You never know when those undeserved acts of kindness will change a wayward heart…
In His love,
Director, Answer2prayer Ministries
(To access the entire “My Crazy Hero” devotional series, please click here.)