“I sure do love you Buddy.”
It’s been almost 4 years since my dad died. Those words, in his soft voice, still ring in my head. He was a man’s man. Hands the size of a catcher’s mitt, but a heart to match. My dad was the blessed father of 5 daughters before I came along, and throughout my upbringing, he was constantly pulling me out from among all of that girlie presence and heading to the woods, the jobsite, or work outdoors on the farm I grew up on.
From the time I was 8, I would spend every weekend and break from school riding around with him in his pickup, going from jobsite to jobsite, checking in on his workers, often being assigned menial tasks while he did “important stuff”. I don’t know how many hours I spent sprawled out in the passenger seat asleep in that truck. But what I do remember, and can still feel it in my chest, is that huge catcher’s mitt playfully backhanding me, jolting me awake, only so he could say, “I sure do love you Buddy.”
I don’t remember thinking it was very cool then.
But I do now.
You see, my dad desired me. He had an affection for me that was unshakeable. Even as I grew older and became a “way smarter than my dad” teenager, with all the attitude that comes with it, I never doubted his deep fondness of me.
It’s that influence that has caused me to see and to hear the Father’s words throughout the Bible, “I sure do love you Buddy.” There is a playful, almost wasteful it seems, way that God just lavishes his love on us. It’s almost as if, Love is who he is, and there is a boundless, endless supply of it, so he can afford to be wasteful with it. Even when we spurn it, even when we don’t understand it, or even when we don’t deserve it. God’s love for you and me is unlike anything we could imagine. He’s as unpredictable in his expression of it towards us as a playful backhand to the chest while we’re asleep.
I don’t know what your experience is with the love of your dad, but borrow mine if you need to, and consider that God, our Father, and Jesus, his son, is deeply fond of you, he deeply desires you, and he simply wants to be with you…wasting time together. Whether we realize it or not, His love for us caused him to do the craziest thing that has ever been done in the history of man. He willingly gave up his life, when mine was required. He did it for me, even before I knew how to love him back. He initiated, not me.
Now as I consider the image of love, hanging on a tree, dying in my place, just before he breathes his last, I can hear his voice weakly saying, “I sure do love you buddy.”
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 1 John 3.1,16
God, what is this love? It’s too great for my mortal mind. It’s too painful, too costly, too undeserved for me to accept without somehow earning. Yet it’s who you are. I want it, and I want you. Thank you for the incredible risky expression of your love for me. I love you too, Father.
And I love you too Dad.-Doug Bishop