I saw a man talk the other day about the love of God and that God’s love is both incomprehensible to man, because so often man loves conditionally, and because God’s love is a constant in our lives whether we choose to tap into its power or not. The power of God’s love is its unconditional nature, that we can receive it simply by loving ourselves as we are in the glow of His love and sharing this gift with others. These ideas do not make me cranky; in fact they produce the opposite effect in me.
Saturday I am down by the lake, fishing for trout and soaking up the beauty all around me when arrives an old man who needs to be heard. He looks to be late 60’ish, large coke bottle-bottom glasses, horribly unshaven chin and an amiable if slightly goofy grin on his face. This man intrudes on the wonderful silence of the lake as he carries on a narration. He speaks in short disconnected sentences about the current state of fishing, about how to best land a fish, about fish statistics from the day before and the weather and the water clarity and the fact that his “buddy” has a bass boat but can’t take it out because the hydraulics failed and need repairing. Lots of information. No information that anyone particularly wants. We are simple fishermen enjoying God’s creation and we want nothing more than to be still and know Him for a while. Suddenly, crisis intervenes and the narration turns to a prickly problem. This old man has locked his keys inside his truck. Now being that his intrusive monologue has already alienated everyone along the shore (and most people plying the waters in boats), nobody rushes forward to assist. The problem is compounded by the fact that his fishing gear is likewise locked out of reach. So the old man has nothing to do but bemoan this sorry state of affairs. Sound travels efficiently across water. I imagined that even people miles across the lake were aware of his dilemma. Upon hearing that his cell phone was also in his truck, I offered mine. I thought that in doing so he would be able to alert his good wife who would rush to his aid. I imagined that she would come quickly, hungry for fresh trout and salvage what would otherwise be a lost opportunity. He told me his number; I dialed the phone and handed it to him. He related the story to her, “I know honey, I didn’t do it on purpose,” he pleaded. “Well you were sleeping, and I didn’t want to wake you up”, he soothed, justifying his early morning escape. “I know honey, I didn’t do it on purpose,” obviously she was unconvinced that his forgetfulness wasn’t a purposeful act (he repeated this at least four times). By the end of this phone call I could see that no assistance was being offered by his good wife beyond instructive guilt and helpful admonitions. He ended the call, handed me the phone and shuffled away loudly proclaiming a need for a ride home to collect his spare keys. I let him go. I decided that his wife did not deserve a trout dinner anyway. Eventually all was quiet again and the happy water lapped at the rocky shore and a fish churned vigorously against a line. The old man reappeared later with rods and a folding chair in hand. He loudly proclaimed the beneficence of the park Ranger who drove him home to retrieve his spare keys. The peace again broken, I packed up my fish and headed for home.
I don’t imagine that God is like the old man’s wife who sought to punish him for his mistake instead of helping when he asked. I imagine that God’s love is like the Ranger. He’s there to give us a lift out of our mistakes if we ask Him, and even provide us means for a trout dinner when we don’t deserve it.