Late afternoon, on “Black Friday” my daughter Carly was dropping off Stacey and Amy in front of a Scottsdale mall. Each had armloads of gifts and boxes to retrieve. Stacey couldn’t get out of the car until Amy had gathered all her packages. This did not go over well with the couple in the car behind them. The driver started honking her horn. Both Amy and Stacey tried to motion apologies for taking so long. But she kept leaning on her horn. She did not stop until after she pursued Carly out of the mall and several miles down the road…

If you know Carly, there may not be a person on earth less appropriate to honk at. She is incredibly kind, thoughtful and sacrificial. Driving panicked on those streets, she broke into tears at the meanness of the driver. It frightened her, violated her. Something happens to a father when he hears such news. It doesn’t matter if this father is a believer or not. The first thought is usually something like this: “I will somehow discover the identity of this person and set up a hidden horn near the front door of their home. I will blare it for several hours and then stop, giving hope that the ordeal is over, only to start it up again in the middle of the night for them and their neighbors to enjoy. (It’s your fault if you decided to live in a neighborhood next to such a person.)”

I’ve noticed over the years that my first response is sometimes not much different than my first responses were before I was a believer. But there is something deeper now in me, something stronger, something that always eventually seeps through my being. It is love. I am a new creature, fused with God Himself. I really am! In spite of all my mess and failure. I am “Christ in John!” And eventually it shines through. Rarely in the timing or display I would expect or want. Love doggedly waits for my old tapes to yell, scream and cry out “Unfair!” Love doggedly waits for my fear and shame to rise and fail. Love doggedly waits for my blame to run out of steam, for my desperate attempt to control the situation, enact justice, fix my daughter’s wounded heart. Love waits. And then, when I have plotted, manipulated, fixated and schemed my way into a realization that I am just desperately needy of God to do something-then love moves.

-Love calls my name to a higher way, a truer, more authentic, more vulnerable response.
-Love reminds me that I cannot always be there when Carly gets hurt, but He will.
-Love reminds me that He can (and will) use even this stupid, mean event to make her
even more beautiful.
-Love empowers me to see that the woman honking on her horn is full of pain and deeply
needs Jesus.
-Love frees me to forgive that woman, so I can be free to love again.
-Love actually slowly begins to free me to care for that driver.
-Love convinces me He’s in control and loves all that concerns me more than I do.
-Love teaches me to run to my God, the One who loves me most, to tell Him my sadness,
and pain in not being able to protect the ones I love.
-Love allows me to talk about it, so I don’t stuff the pain inside and act out of my shame.
-Love directs me back to my daughter to let her know how proud I am of the beautiful
heart God has formed in her.
-Love gives me words to communicate the depth of my sadness that she had to go
through such pain.
-Love instructs me to remind my daughter that God stands with His arm around her even
in the midst of cruel nonsense that hurts her heart.
-Love reminds me to tell her there is no event He will not redeem.
-Love employs this event and allows a family to draw closer to each other to protect each
other’s hearts with God’s comfort.
-Love allows me to not forget how deeply this world needs Jesus, especially in this
season.
-Love brings me to peace, so I can stay present for those who need me to be fully there.

I love this God. I will follow this God. I will trust this God. I will praise and worship this God. I will teach others of this God’s love. I will depend upon the love of this God to heal me. I will continue to model this God’s life of grace to my family and friends, even when I am in my own pain.

…I love this God.