Above: Barnabas – Son of Encouragement
Unconditional Love. It’s all about establishing trust. When our only daughter (only child for that matter) headed off to college it became painfully obvious that my wife and me were about to experience a “loss” in our life that we only understood on paper, not in reality. After 19 years, with 3 only children around the household (my wife, daughter and I), there was a pretty inseparable bond that had formed. Some might call that codependency. We called it camaraderie and love. Total love; total trust. The sort of glimpse that God gives us into His heart towards His sons & daughters.
Fast forward only a few months and we just know a replacement “child” must come from somewhere. Let’s face it we can’t produce one ourselves anymore so let’s go buy one. I mean, come on. Can’t live this way for too long, right? Enter Barnabas. A tiny little toy poodle (you can see him in the photo the day he came home). Before too long we understand why dog spelled backwards is God. Whoa, talk about unconditional love. He doesn’t talk back, he listens most of the time, if we’re lucky he’ll do his business out back; but a little grace in that area goes a long way. Here’s the best part. I can leave and come back in 5 minutes and he acts like I’ve been gone for a year. Jumping, rolling, licking, panting, spinning. You name it. To this day, 13 years later, he still runs at me and leaps off the ground into my arms. We started that a long time ago and that, my friends, is TRUST. A 10lb. poodle being airborne the way he does is pretty risky. Haven’t dropped him yet.
God’s Word says He’s as excited as Barnabas is to see us love Him, follow Him and seek His heart. No mistake Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement”. He’s been that and a lot more. For you dog lovers out there, you know what I’m talking about.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he defines it as God defines it.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7. A very familiar passage.
We know that God sacrificed the ultimate on our behalf. His Son. That’s a mind blower.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (atonement and substitute for what we deserve) for our sins. I John 4:9-10.
The toughest part for us, as human beings, is to accept this Love and in turn pay it forward into other people’s lives that we contact daily. When we do, we feel like Barnabas – The son of Encouragement. That’s just a little glimpse of how God sees us.