If you could draw God’s love on a graph, it would be a straight line all throughout eternity, never curving or dipping even a millimeter, no matter what happens. God is the one and only God whose love is immeasurable, radical, and eternal. Immeasurable because He gave His one and only Son for us, His rebellious creation, radical because He never gives up on us, and eternal because His kind of love never runs out on us.
Everyone knows that famous verse of the Bible: “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not parish, but have everlasting life.” It is truly the Gospel wrapped up into one verse, which has children and theologians alike gaping at the simple verse’s complexity and depth. But that’s another message for another day. Instead, let’s pull back the curtains to one of the first acts God did to prove He loves us with a loving jealousy and desire unlike we know…He looked.
Seems simple enough. It doesn’t look like there is much depth to it, does there? Maybe a few pastors have considered this topic as the main message of a Sunday sermon, and very few evangelizers have used it as the first message spoken to an unbeliever. I don’t blame them. God’s provision, God’s justice, the miracle of Christ, and dozens of other topics trump what seems like this feeble topic.
But do not let this simple little truth let you see it as small. It may look small, but it is the base to all of God’s abounding love.
In Genesis 3:7-9, God is calling out for Adam. The Amplified Bible says it this way: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you?” So Adam and Eve hid themselves from God’s presence because they had broken His one rule. Try to visualize it, because this is where the magic comes in: God passes thick, lush bushes and steps over the bundles of fuchsia and golden flowers He created. Maybe a mile or so away sits the radiant Tree of Life, or maybe the shaggy, dreaded Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Perhaps the serene Euphrates River or its cousins flow around him to the fine melody He tuned them to flow to. The squirrels are playing around in the vivid green grass while the goats and deer are, more than likely, grazing in peace under the shadows of the mighty trees in Eden, enjoying the “cool of the day”.
God sees all the good that He created around him, but don’t think for a moment that He is oblivious to what had just entered His paradise. He knows the Serpent had tricked Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, that Eve had enticed her husband to do the same, and Adam, the first masterpiece of an eternal soul wrapped in flesh that God had trusted like His very own angels, had broken His only rule. No part of the drama escapes God, yet He is full of mercy but just at the same time. He is a holy God who cannot look on sin, so He must bring due justice, which is to separate Himself from Adam and Eve. But the good news is that He had a plan even before Adam and Eve confessed.
Try to envision it again, but in God’s perspective. He saw them peeking behind the tree bark with frightful children’s eyes, Eve clinging on to Adam to dwindle her fear, and Adam holding on to her while fighting a strange emptiness in his heart as his so adoring Creator approached him. Then God calls him again.
“Adam, Adam, where are you? I want to ask for your creativity on naming a Mr. Buggie for Me. I was thinking Praying for the first part, since his little hands are always together like he is praying. I want your opinion though.” Normally Adam would have laughed and would have come striding out of the thick forest, holding a fruit bigger than his hand as yet another present.
“Abba, You are the Creator of the world, yet you ask me to name what you create?”
God smiles, His heart leaping with love for His perfect creation and companion. “Well, yes. I made this world to suit you. You might as well name the creatures and plants that dwell on it.” Eve, the picture of a curvy supermodel with luscious, maybe wavy hair, comes out after her husband too. She holds out a white lily almost bigger than her head.
“Ah, yes, Eve wanted to give you a present. She grew this one herself!” Adam beamed.
And God beamed even more as He took the lovely flower into His mighty and powerful hands. He remembered breathing over that same lily a few nights before while Adam and Eve were ending their swimming day with Mr. and Mrs. Black Bear.
Instead of another heartwarming scene like so many before, Adam pushes himself from behind the tree trunk, his voice shaking as he speaks. His contaminated bones seem to melt at the distance he feels in his soul from his Creator. It’s too much to bear.
“I’m right here, Abba. I—I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid from you,” (Gen. 3:8-10).
God stops dead track. He turns to Adam. “What? Who told you that you were naked?” God sighs. “Did you eat from the only tree I told you not to eat from?” (Gen. 3: 11).
Adam jumps up in shock. Pressure builds. He turns to the beautiful Eve, who is still hiding behind the trunk. He jabs his finger towards her. “That woman you put here with me—she gave me some of the fruit! It’s her fault!” (Gen. 3:12). God’s heart breaks. Now, the beauty He had made for Adam is a woman, not his wife. It’s what anger does.
God turns to Eve. He is very unhappy with their disobedience, but He still keeps His voice steady. “Eve, what happened, my daughter?” He knows what happened, but He still asks.
Eve jumps out in her own defense, ignoring the kindness of her Creator, with her cheeks getting red with anger towards Adam. And God is devastated when He sees the first couple arguing. She jabs her own finger at him. “[It’s not my fault,]” she spits out in disgust towards her husband. “It was the serpent! He toyed with me and got me to eat it.” (Gen. 3: 13) Adam shakes his head, but Eve continues. “I never forced you to eat it, Adam! You chose to! You knew what it would do…”
All of the goodness He had created in Adam and Eve didn’t seem to be there anymore. Anger colored their cheeks and blame was tossed around until God finally brought down the punishment for their sin that they had been fairly warned of much in advance.
So, the couple are expelled from Eden with each of their own curses (and the serpent too, but that too is another story for another day). Adam will work and toil for food and shelter for his family that the earth will give much more stubbornly all of his days, while Eve must obey every word of her husband and give him many children through uncomfortable pregnancies and enormously painful deliveries. So what is God doing? He is in heaven now, watching the cherubim slash his flaming sword back and forth in front of the gate of Eden. His other creation, the angels, come to Him.
“Master, you don’t need to do this. You can’t trust them now. They chose to turn away from you.”
Another angel, with gloomy eyes, steps up too. He speaks the truth of the future, though his own heart hurts like God’s for the fallen creation. “Yes, and most of them will not chose to be with you even after that.”
With tears in His eyes, God looks down at Adam, who is sweating over dry ground, pounding a flat and rigged rock into the useless dust. The drought had begun where he now lived.
“Oh, angels, but what else can I do? I love them. Don’t you remember how I formed Adam from the dust; how My fingers cut those slits into where his eyes would be? Don’t you remember how I formed Eve from Adam’s rib, and how I breathed life into her and watched as I presented her to Adam? Don’t you remember how We walked with them in peace and joy?”
The angels sulk, their hearts mirroring their Creator’s grief.
“It has been but a mere moment to Us since I spoke to Adam, and I miss him so much. I miss Eve too, with her love of bringing me flowers every morning.”
The Son steps up to His Father’s side.
“Daddy, do not be so troubled. Your plan will work perfectly. Those who want to see Your love will follow in Your footsteps once again.”
God clutches His Son’s hand tightly. He could feel His precious Son’s pain and devastation on that cross already. He could see the blood dripping off His innocent Son’s brow as the crown of thorns dug into His human skin. He could see most of Adam’s descendants scoffing at their Creator, while a few bowed on their knees before Him in a humble and adoring heart. Then God’s heart drops as He sees Himself turning all of His wrath towards sin on His one and only Son, who never deserved such wrath, but took it for Adam and Eve and the families after them. Pain. It would cause God so much pain to bring them back.
But then He looks down to Adam, who is weeping bitter tears while on his knees, and Eve, who is watching him from a distance. Adam is skinner than before from malnutrition, and his skin is calloused from working the stubborn earth so much. Eve is no longer the beauty she had been either. Wrinkles cover her face from restless nights through so many pregnancies, and her heart is no longer joyous as it had been in the garden of Eden. A word of encouragement does not come to her mind as she begins to tear up as well. Their first two sons had already been lost, one in expulsion from them, and the other murdered by the elder brother. The one in her belly was already rebellious, while the others running around their home fought for a piece of food.
God’s heart fills with indescribable pain again, and His eyes fog up. In His mercy, He takes a tear on His finger, and lets it fall to the ground below. It falls in front of Adam, and seeps into the dry, desert like soil around him, creating a fertile patch that would produce him enough food for his family through the drought. Adam looks up at the sound of the thunderous crash, his own eyes red from much sorrow. He looks up like a little boy begging his father for forgiveness after failing a test that the father wanted him to ace. And God’s heart swells with compassion like a sponge swells with water just as Eve screams out a heartfelt thank you towards Him in her heart.
“Yes, My Son, the plan will work. I want them home again.”
That scene in and out of Eden is beautiful and tragic to see, isn’t it? Some of it is in the Bible, but most of it is drawn from God’s loving and devoted character shown through The Bible’s pages. That scene in Eden is where God’s grace truly began. That spot is where God looks and begins to pursue His fallen creation until the very last word of Revelation. Imagine if we read the Bible with this message in mind: that God looks for us.
Notice that He could have walked away. He could have become the “watchmaker” who left to make another world, and let this failed one run on its own until the world destroyed itself from sin overdose. But He didn’t because He loved, and because He loved, He pursued His creations’ hearts like a man pursues his soon-to-be bride.
Here is a glimpse of God looking for us through the pages of The Bible: He came to Abraham whose family was no greater or holier than the Haran pagans surrounding him (Gen 12). He met Jacob and Jacob fought with Him, so the Lord renamed Him Israel, meaning “struggled with God,” (Genesis 32:28). He was with Joseph when he was a poor ol’ slave in Egypt, (Gen 39:2-4). He appeared to Moses in a burning bush, (Gen 3). God delivered His people from slavery (Genesis 13&14). And God came down as Emanuel, God with us, (John 1:1&14; Isaiah 7:14). God did all the actions. He came, He met, He was with, He appeared, He delivered, and He came down. God is a patient God, and the only God who desires a personal relationship with His creation. Through His persistence, He brought us the possibility to go back to Him, but notice that He took the initiative. He is not afraid to get His hands dirty, or more specifically, confine Himself in the womb of a virgin for nine months when He could have been speaking stars into existence. His love is immeasurable, radical, and eternal. His love is unchanging, never ending, and abounding.
His love is looking for us. Yes, the drug addict. Yes, the abusive husband. Yes, the gang leader and the murderer. But most importantly, He is looking for you. You. That’s grace. That is getting a love you do not deserve. You chose the forbidden fruit over Him in one way or another. But guess what? God is a God who looks, and as Max Lucado taught me, He is a God who stoops down to us. That is God. That has always been God. No theologian can say it better than those two words that make up the title of this article, and no amount of rigorous redrafts of The Bible can take away that first act of grace and mercy, and no redrafts or society norm can paint Him as unloving and sadistic. “For God so loved that He looked” led to “For God so loved that He gave His only Son…”
No matter where you are, He looks for you because you are His, and He wants you back from the world. He wants your eyes to be on Him because He knows you better than you know yourself. His kind of love is incomparable to any love we know. He is like a hen that runs around her chicks so she can gather them under her to protect them from the rain. He never stops looking for us and He will never be idle. No matter how long I flip through a dictionary to conjure up a word for God’s love, I won’t find one. The only word that comes close is “agape”, and even that does not explain God’s love enough.
And the best news? God is still looking. Even in the 21st century, God still waits patiently for that moment when you open your heart to Him. He waits for you. He gave you everything He had—His Son. The one and only Son. Pride will tell you it was not enough, but the God-shaped hole inside your soul will tell you it was more than enough.
This is the message hurting hearts need to hear from the start. They need to hear God’s grace began In The Beginning. They need to hear God literally searched for us In The Beginning, and continues to search for us today. We are all His children, and He wants all of us to be with Him again. Isn’t that what a loving parent wants of his children if they run away? God is never too far for the worst of us.
But if you had to remember one thing from the article, remember this and pass it on: God looks.
Alina Sopt – Phoenix, Arizona