Jon was wandering around the kitchen before I left for Sunday morning service, taking stock of the plate I had prepared him and gathering more food from the pantry and fridge.
When I came home, he was standing next to the dinette table just off the kitchen, and had methodically arranged all his food, dishes, silverware and some treasures from his room on and around a place mat.
He’d barely eaten anything while I was gone which is typical for him. He has to have things arranged a certain way before he feels settled and his obsession will often stretch the process out for hours.
The caregiver left and I started on lunch for Mike and I, warming up leftovers, putting a meal together in about fifteen minutes and setting our places on each side of Jon’s. Our son rarely wants to sit and eat with us but it looked like he was about to settle down and I was hoping the three of us would have lunch together this day.
The unspoken Jon rule is this: he can invade your space at any time, day or night but you take a risk invading his. Sometimes you are received, many times not (read more about that here).
It’s somewhat like the kings in the Old Testament who raised a scepter to show their approval if you entered their presence without being beckoned. If approval was not granted you could quickly be missing your head (see Esther 4:11-16).
As Mike and I took our seats, blessed the food and began eating, the expression on Jon’s face tuned into a scowl. We had invaded his space and he wasn’t happy about it.
“Come on Jon,” I said, “sit down and eat with us. You did a great job setting your place here so let’s have lunch together today.”
It wasn’t happening. He began snatching his things off the table and moving them to the dining room, stomping back and forth from one table to the other until everything was moved. No amount of encouragement or pleading convinced him to stay.
It’s always his choice, never ours.
I’ve learned so much about the father heart of God from Jon through the years. I know what it’s like to feel rejected by your child and I also have a greater understanding of unconditional love.
Jon has days when he barely acknowledges my presence. But regardless of how that makes me feel, I’m aware of his social limitations and I still love him. I will always be here for him, reaching, waiting; doing everything I can to give him the best possible life.
There are many ways I want to show Jon how much I love him that he often doesn’t want or accept, so I have to meet him where he is and on his terms.
As I read the Bible, I see so many illustrations of God’s love for His people. His children.
He longs to be with them. He wants to bless them, rescue them, and shower them with love and mercy. He comes into their situations over and over, making Himself available in their darkest hour; if they would only acknowledge Him and respond to His love.
But they don’t. They turn away and break His heart.
Again. And again. And again.
So God waits.
And He’s still waiting.
Waiting for me and you to acknowledge Him.
Waiting for us to respond to His love.
Waiting for His kids to understand the Cross was the very best He could offer to exchange our wayward and distant heart for His limitless love.
He longs to be with us and waits to be invited.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
God will not force Himself into this relationship. It’s on my terms, not His. It’s all about my willingness to open the door, set a place at the table, pull out a chair and invite Him to sit with me.
And it makes His heart very happy when I do. Just like it makes me happy when Jon decides he wants to be with me.
Unconditional love hopes.
“Maybe today will be the day.”
Unconditional love never gives up.
“Not today? OK, then maybe tomorrow?”
Unconditional love reaches.
“Whether you want me or not, I’ll always love you.”
Unconditional love waits.
“I’ll still be here when you return.”
Isaiah 49:15 -16 ““Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
Jeremiah 3:14 “ You are unfaithful children, but you belong to me. Come home!”
Luke 3:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
Luke 15:20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”