Three men and a young boy find themselves in freezing water after their plane crashes in Alaska. The three adult men are strong swimmers, and two of them successfully fight the current and make shore safely. The third one, the father of the young boy, would also have been able to make shore, but he noticed his son was losing ground. Swimming back to him, the father fought hard to save his son, but the current was too much for him with his son in tow. As the two men watched helplessly from shore, they saw the father make his choice: He wrapped his arms around his boy, not wanting him to be alone in the time they had left.
What love; what heartbreaking, powerful, comforting love that father demonstrated to his son. This is the love every human longs to find; here on Earth as we seek lifelong companions and as our family circle expands; and in heaven, as we embrace a God we desperately want to believe loves us enough to respond to us in our trials.
Most of our early life is spent in pursuit of this earthly connection. As children we look to our parents with eager expectation of unconditional love. Those who find themselves bathed in this kind of love are blessed beyond measure with a kind of earthly heaven; a place where they can retreat for safety and comfort in trouble--and genuine joy in celebration. When that love includes extended family members; grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. the blessing is made manifold, and the courses they chart in life are rooted in the embrace of this safe harbor so deeply that they carry it even when they're apart.
Those of us without this safe harbor, this wellspring of unconditional love, find our courses equally affected by our past, because the courses we chart now include a continuing search for the safe harbor we've not yet experienced. Some of us find it in partners, in individual members of our family, in friendships, and even in groups and communities outside the home. Sadly, some never find an earthly example of this love.
Our human search impacts our search for God, too, though here the field is leveled some. God already loves us unconditionally. He loves us not for who we are or who our parents are; not for what we've done or what we will do. He loves us because He made us.
He loves us so much He stood by and did nothing when His own much-loved Son (Jesus) pleaded with Him in the garden at Gethsemane to "find another way" (to save humankind) if possible. And it was that very same Jesus who loved us so much He went through the very things He so feared that night. That love of the Father and the Son is equally available to anyone who calls on Jesus as Lord and Savior.
And now He asks us to share that love by living lives of selflessness and humility; lives that are motivated by His love in us. Lives that are spurred to action by the needs of the poor, the weak and the broken---and aren't sidetracked by the hecklers who blame the poor, the weak and the broken for the trials they face. He also asks us to talk about His love; to tell others the story of how we came to know Him; and to invite them to meet His love, too.
The news is full of the results of lives lived love-starved and lives destroyed by the search for love in wrong ways and wrong places. It is time for us to lay aside our desire for "easy lives" of plenty and peace. It is time for us to choose the path of the father who would not let his son die alone in that big ocean. As followers of Jesus, may the lives we lead be constant reminders that no one need be truly alone in the ocean of trials that is the existence of so many. Let the anthem we sing begin like this:"Jesus loves me this I know..."