Imagine what a different world it would be if no one broke their agreements, if no one breached their contracts. That’s a world that’s almost unimaginable. In fact, the whole of contract law developed to deal with people who break agreements, as a means to stabilize these kind of economic relationships. Largely, it works. People mostly do what they say they will do, mostly abide by the terms of agreements. Circumstances change, and people are not omniscient, so the law even provides a way for parties to undo agreements, such as when they make a mutual mistake of fact, or they renegotiate. These are conditional promises we make to one another. But that’s not the kind of promise God makes to us.
God’s covenant love for us is unconditional. There is that continued refrain in the Old Testament, demonstrated in His great acts, as when He always forgives and reclaims His people after they abandon Him and chase after false idols, and in His continual reaffirmations of His love, as in Psalm 136 where we hear the continuous refrain of his love continues forever. Repetition serves the purpose of hopefully driving home the point that God is steadfast and loyal in His love for us and will never abandon us. And yet it is a difficult knowledge to appropriate, as there is no human analogy for this kind of love. People who love us fail us. The sun, seemingly constant in its light and warmth, will go dim on some distant day. The dog who always comes, even when chastised, will eventually, on some occasion, be distracted by the neighborhood cat or decide to seek out greener pastures, and will not come. There is no real constancy like God’s love.
In the account of his conversion, the evangelist and revivalist Charles Finney recounts his encounter with the love of God: "No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, 'I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.' I said, 'Lord, I cannot bear any more;' yet I had no fear of death." I don't know if Finney's account was excessive emotionalism, but his account does give you a sense of the relentlessness of God's love, its tidal power in your heart.
It’s worth dwelling on that Love above all loves every day. When I do that, I don’t worry about failing, about falling short of whatever standard I have set or someone has set for me, about getting it all done. I can do nothing to stop Him from loving me, nothing to merit it. If I did nothing but watch old reruns of Frasier 24/7, eat, and sleep, it would be of no consequence to His love for me (though it would be a waste of a mind, such as it is). If I could really appropriate this knowledge, really live it, I would do everything in gratitude, not dutifully but thankfully, not for approval but for love. As Brendan Manning says, "God's love is based on nothing, and the fact that it is based on nothing makes us secure. Were it based on anything we do, and that 'anything' were to collapse, then God's love would crumble as well. But with the God of Jesus no such thing can possibly happen. People who realize this can live freely and fully."
I have a lot of work to do, but that work is really only one thing: learning to rest on the love of Jesus alone. Only the faith He gave me qualifies me for that work. Only as I understand that Love do I grow in becoming who He intends me to be.
Drop the laundry. Put the pen down. Shut off the monitor. Stop trying to live up to what your spouse or parent thinks you need to be, to who you think you need to be. And just think: None of that will stop His love.