After a series of events with children and staff in the Philippines during my last trip to the Institute of Foundational Learning, it was obvious to me that the Spirit of God put an expanse in my heart that was new. The term “unfailing love” or “love everlasting” became real in a deeper way. I became more aware of His bottomless love as I loved and obeyed. I have been a Christian for more than 40 years. I was familiar with solid love in marriage and with good friends. I was familiar with His love and the moving of the Spirit. I was blessed and testified of these things but not prepared for the expansion of that understanding that began this year and continues.
Having returned home by late March, the change did not stop. Sharing was different. Little events reminded me of His leading and presence. Just praying for people when I was alone moved me as I had not been moved before. I was to share about the Philippines with my local church (HOPE Community Church) in late April. Many were moved. I expressed the heart of things to a friend after the service. He wept frequently–impacted by the love of God that was central to events I recalled. I have shared with new friends since then about the same things but have to frequently stop–struck by the depth of His love that has become so personal.
A series of events unfolded in later April that changed a close friendship with Faylene Lawson to a marriage relationship. God would visit an unimportant person like me for such a matter? We had both lost previous spouses whom we had loved deeply. All four of us shared in our fellowship with the Lord. Could the transition from a best friend in Christ, which Faylene was, to a wife occur with all of this in view? The change was smooth and deep. We do not go through a day without recounting the bottomless love of the Father in one way or another. We witness it between us and to others in our presence. Who are we to be so blessed to be carried in this way? Who are we to be given opportunities to love others in like manner as He loved us? Our respective testimonies have not changed, they have just gotten deeper with the impact of a little bit of His bottomless love.
Isn’t this the way it should be? Is there any hint in 2 Pet 1:7-8 that the fruit of adding to our faith somehow plateaus or retreats? As it increases the end result is deepening love–the kind that only God can author and expand. Is there any hint in other bible verses or Christ’s admonitions that fruitful love stops growing? Is there any hint in Christ’s words that He will leave us as orphans (John 14:18) or somehow forget us in the end (John 6:40)? Does the cyclical process of repentance and forgiveness ever stop that opens us to a deeper walk with Him (1 John 1:7-9)? His love reaches farther than we can comprehend, which is why it is termed “unfailing love” in the Bible.
How does this begin? Can it be anyone’s? Of course, because it begins with Him and our response to His beckoning. Our hearts must want to know Him. At all cost and regardless of age or circumstance, whether single or married, we must want Him first. This posture and attitude toward Christ, when nurtured over time, is the very thing that draws God to answer His own promise to keep His children and to love them. What bottomless love! I have only experienced a tiny bit, and it has changed me. It can change anyone.
Post note: Roland and Faylene Beard return to the Philippines in a month to continue mission work.