Love Means Never Giving Up On Someone


Bob told me he made a lot of wrong choices growing up. In high school he ignored the curfew hour set by his parents, often coming home late at night “drunk as a hoot owl.”
Bob was surprised by his father’s strange response to his behavior. He was never angry, and never chastised him. No matter how late Bob came in, he always found his dad fully dressed, sitting in a chair waiting for him.
“When I came in, sometimes staggering, Dad never dressed me down,” Bob said. “He simply helped me to bed, always patting me on the back as he said calmly, ‘You’ll be a fine man one day, son.’”
Dad was right. One day Bob quit running from God, gave up drinking, and was profoundly converted. More than a fine man, Bob became a new man in Christ. He went on to college, finished seminary, and became a devout minister and teacher of the Christian faith.
Bob understands the gospel. He experienced it. His own father introduced him to the God who never gives up on his children despite their wrong choices. I trembled with joy when Bob shared his story with me. It illustrates the true nature of God. He is the God of second chances, and third and fourth chances.
Sin leads inexorably to suffering. When we insist on our own way, refusing to obey God, we are on the pathway to suffering. None of us can get away with mocking God. He allows us to reap what we sow, to experience the pain of disobedience. We cannot break covenant with God without suffering the sad consequences he permits.
The Israelites of the Bible are a good example. They refused to put God first. They embraced pagan gods. They mocked the prophets God sent to turn them from their wicked ways. They scoffed at the goodness of God and had to endure the wrath of God. The Chaldeans were the instruments of God’s wrath.
Grief accompanies suffering. The Judahites were overwhelmed with sadness because of the exile into Babylon. They sad down by the riverside and wept bitter tears, unable to “sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.” Their harps collected dust while they mourned about their loss. They only realized how much Jerusalem, the holy city, meant to them after they had lost it.
Engulfed by the consequences of our wrong choices, we too can sit down and weep — or we can learn valuable lessons from our sins. When we scoff at the moral laws of God, we are spitting into the wind. When we break God’s commandments, we are really breaking ourselves. Would to God that the pain of our sins could teach us once and for all that life will work in only one way, and that is the way of Jesus!
When our behavior has brought on suffering, nothing can cheer us more than the good news of the gospel. The good news is that while we were still sinners, God showed his love for us by letting Jesus die for our sins. The good news is that God never stops loving us. He never gives up on his children.
Wise parents allow their children to suffer the consequences of their behavior but they never stop loving them. Even when their children come home late at night drunk, loving parents will offer them a second chance, and a third, and a fourth, to get it right by surrendering to Jesus.
Hard times brought on by wrong choices have taught me repeatedly that I cannot mock God without suffering severe consequences. It was during such hard times that I begged for mercy, turned from my wicked ways, and went running to my Father — praying that he was willing to give me another chance to get my life right! And he did.
We who love Christ love him because he has forgiven our sins. And we have no greater joy than to tell someone who is running from God that he will never give up on them. We know his transforming love is available to those who seek it because we have experienced it. That’s why Jesus means so much to us; we know firsthand what he can do for a wayward child who turns to him!