“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Embrace of God, by Randall D. Kittle

Send2Friend3

If your heart says, “I want God to change me so that He can love me more,” allow me to give you some good news: His desire is to love you so much that His love within you will change you from the inside out. Romans 2:4 says “… the kindness of God leads you to repentance.” God created us to love us, and so that we would love Him in return. We were not created to serve God — He created the angels to serve Him. The living God of the universe, the Creator of all things, created us to have relationship with Him! God does not want us to perform great feats for Him, but to allow Him to show His love to us. God’s desire is to embrace us — to love us. Once we have found that place of being loved and cared for, accepted and secure, once we’ve experienced the loving-kindness of His heart; from there we will be led toward repentance … because we won’t want anything to come between us and Him.

The long arms of God yearn to embrace His children. If your faults or failings somehow make you feel “untouchable,” remember that God’s arms are not too short to reach you. In Isaiah 50:2, God asks the prophet,
“Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you?” Isaiah answers the question “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1). God’s arms are not too short to rescue us; they are not too short to provide for us; and they are not too short to embrace us!

Unmerited Love
We could never earn this love of God, and we don’t have to because He delights to give us His love! Although I knew this with my mind, I only began to truly understand it after I started having children. When I stood in the delivery room of the hospital and first held my oldest daughter Anna in my arms, I loved her with a strong and powerful love — a “father’s love.” I still don’t know where it came from or how I got it, but I believe this love is a supernatural gift from God, a dim reflection of our heavenly Father’s love for us.

As a tiny baby, what had Anna done to deserve my love? Let’s pause and look at this logically. If we examine her long list of assets, that might help us understand just why I loved her so much. She couldn’t talk; she could only cry. She couldn’t help around the house, in fact she needed constant care: feeding, changing, and bathing. She not only didn’t sleep much, she made certain the rest of us didn’t sleep very much either.

Perhaps this love was based on something Anna had done for Gini or me. Let’s see … she caused my wife a lot of pain. No, that probably didn’t help her case. She cost us a lot of money. That’s not really a winning point either. We could search further, but the facts of the case are quite clear: nothing Anna was or did caused me to love her. She had not earned nor did she deserve my love — I merely loved her because I loved her. Nothing she will ever do and nothing she will ever become will cause me to love her more or love her less. What an amazing love!

No matter how amazing this love for my daughter is, it is merely a dim reflection of the overwhelming, unconditional love of God. God’s love is a love that longs to embrace us even when we are covered with guilt and shame. The love of God does not shrink back … it runs toward us! When we have been unfaithful and rebellious, having turned from God and pursued our own ways, His heart of love is still hard after us. Let us look at three pictures of this embracing love of God.

The Embrace of the Self-Centered
In the culture and day in which we live, it is easy to have our will and our desire rise up as an idol of self. How quickly those who profess to have Jesus as Lord once again place “self” on the throne of their hearts, and begin to see everything through the jaded eyes of self-centeredness. When finally the eyes of our hearts begin to be enlightened and we see our folly, we retain little hope of Jesus ever accepting us back as the brothers and friends He has said we are. Jesus, knowing of the fickled failings of the heart of man, taught the parable of the prodigal son so we would know that God’s heart seeks, loves, embraces, and restores even those who have dishonored Him through self-centeredness.

In this parable, the son came to his father and asked to receive his inheritance so he could leave. In Bible times it was not unusual for a father to divide up the inheritance before he died. However, the decision to do so was only his to make. To ask this of your father was not only very forward, it was very dishonoring. The son’s request reveals what had captured his heart — self-centeredness. His willingness to dishonor his father in this way shows the depth to which self-centeredness possessed him.

Eventually, as the son lay starving in a pig-pen, he decided to return home.
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). Though it had been a long time, the father was watching and waiting for the son’s return. He was looking for his lost son…and so is our heavenly Father!

The father’s eyes, still filled with hope, recognized his lost son while still a long way off … and look at the embrace of the father. When he recognized his lost son returning, he ran to him with a heart of compassion and fell on his neck and kissed him. What!? In all his filth? Yes! Still dressed in his rags? Yes! In all his smelly, shattered wretchedness? Yes! This is the portrait Jesus paints for us of the loving embrace of our heavenly Father. He did not wait for the son to be cleaned up and restored before he embraced him. Jesus reveals to us the unalterable, unfailing, amazing love of God. The father’s first reaction when he saw his wayward son returning to him barefoot, in rags, and smelling like a pig-stye was to embrace him. There were no words of scolding, no list of punishments, no demand for an apology. He simply embraced him and restored him to sonship, and then allowed him to get cleaned up.

Accepting our Father’s embrace would be easier for us if we would have to apologize first, or receive our lashes, or be reinstated only as a servant. But the love of God embraces us fully. Our self-centered ways haven’t altered God, His love for us remains unchanged, and this is something very hard for us to understand and accept.

When the father restored the son, he restored him completely.
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet” (Luke 15:22). First, the father clothed the son in a robe, which was a sign of his restored position in the family. Next, onto his finger was placed the family ring — a sign of authority. And finally, they put sandals on his bare feet, which was a sign of sonship instead of slavery, for slaves went barefoot. How well this reflects the embrace of God. Though we have in our selfishness dishonored Him and all He has done for us, still His love longs not only to embrace us, but restore us completely!

The Embrace of the Rebellious
Another thing that causes us to feel distant from God and “unembraceable” is when we’ve been rebellious. When we have said “No!” to the Lord’s authority in our lives and have done things our own way, the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of the enemy can make us feel beyond the reach of God’s love. But this is not true. Even the rebellious are not beyond the long arms of the love of God. King David’s son Absalom is a good example of embracing the rebellious.

Absalom was David’s third son by Maacah, the daughter of the king of Geshur. Of royal descent on both sides, Absalom was a potential heir to the throne. Attractive in appearance and charming in manners, Absalom was a popular prince with the people and a favorite of his father.

Absalom’s sister, Tamar, became the object of the lustful desire of Amnon, her half brother, David’s eldest son. When Amnon raped Tamar, and David shut his eyes to the crime and neglected to administer proper punishment, Absalom became enraged. Absalom took it upon himself to avenge this dishonor, eventually succeeding in having Amnon murdered by his servants. Fearing his father’s wrath, Absalom fled into exile. He escaped to Geshur and stayed for three years with his grandfather, Talmai, the king.

When Absalom took the dispensing of justice out of his father’s hands and slew the king’s oldest son, the rightful heir to the throne, it was not only rebellion toward David as his father, but rebellion toward him as king as well. Even after Absalom’s rebellion, David yearned for his son, and God desired to restore him. Joab, one of David’s generals and advisors, sensing the king’s sadness urged the king to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem. David yielded to Joab’s request and permitted Absalom to return to Jerusalem, but not to appear before him.

It was not David’s heart, but God’s heart that restored Absalom. Even though God had restored David when he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then killed her husband, David still did not understand that
“mercy triumphs over judgment.” God wanted David and all of Israel to see the nature of His love. Joab devised a plan to have a woman come before the king and plead for forgiveness for her supposed condemned son, and in this to plead a case for Absalom. As she made her case before David she proclaimed God’s heart in 2 Samuel 14:14, “Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, He devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him.” In the end David received Absalom and embraced him with a kiss — a sign of restoration.

If we have been rebellious and believe that there is no way back to fellowship with God, that we have been forever banished from the presence of our Lord and King, remember the Lord
“devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him.” God is not wanting for any to remain alienated from Him. Outside of your refusing to accept His loving, restoring embrace, there is nothing that can separate you from Him. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).

The Embrace of the Unfaithful
In Revelation it says of believers that we are “called, chosen, and faithful.” God has chosen and called us, and He expects us to be faithful to Him. How sad when we chose unfaithfulness instead. Unfaithfulness is one of the preeminent areas of failing God which causes us to run from God’s embrace instead of toward it. There is no better example of this in the Bible than Hosea and Gomer.

Hosea is one of the most unusual prophets of the Old Testament because God commanded him to take a harlot as a wife. Though she was of ill reputation, Hosea redeemed her by marrying her and giving her his name. His wife, Gomer, eventually returned to her life of sin, becoming the slave of one of her lovers. Once again the Lord sends Hosea to reclaim Gomer. Hosea buys her back from the slave market, paying the price of a common slave, and restores her as his wife.

The name “Hosea” means “one who brings salvation,” and he is a divine foreshadowing of Jesus’ forgiving love. What a portrait of God’s never-failing love to those who are unfaithful. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer is a picture of God’s love not only for Israel, but for all who have been called by His name, but have walked away in unfaithfulness.

Though God chose us, and made us His own, how many have been unfaithful and have once again become slaves to other passions? As He comes to buy us back, He sets us free to no longer be slaves, but His sons and daughters.
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:6–7).

The Scriptures tell us that unless we become as little children we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Romans 8:14–17 reminds us not to return to bondage but to remain adopted children of God.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” God has sent the spirit of adoption because He wants to adopt many sons and daughters. He longs for us to cry out to Him “Abba, Father.” Abba is an Aramaic word which corresponds to our “Daddy” or “Papa.” Servants were not permitted to use this title in addressing the head of the house. Abba was a name that only close family members could use. The blood Jesus shed on the cross has signed our adoption papers. Now, God is desiring many to come and receive the eternal embrace of their heavenly Father.

Running to our Father’s Arms
For many years, the highlight of my day was when I returned home from work. My youngest daughter, Rachel, is filled with the zeal of life. She does almost everything at full throttle. Before the kitchen door was even closed, I could hear her running to the door exclaiming excitedly, “Dad’s home!” Rachel would run up to me and jump into my arms to give me a hug. How often those little arms of love wiped away the heavy burdens that still clung to me as I arrived back home.

As Rachel became older, however, she discovered that most children her age no longer ran into their father’s arms in excitement when they came home. She no longer felt it was appropriate, and so, her loving embrace became a happy little “Hi, Dad!” spoken from the other room. Although I understand that there are seasons of life, I cannot tell you how much I miss those flying “Dad’s-home-hugs.”

Our Heavenly Father also longs for the days we ran into His waiting embrace. Have we become too “mature” to still have a zealous “first love” that runs to God’s open arms? Are we willing to receive the love God has for us, or do we think we have to somehow clean ourselves up before He will embrace us? Our self-centeredness, our rebellion, and our unfaithfulness doesn’t cause the Lord to run from us, but to run toward us, with loving arms open wide longing to embrace His children!


All contents of this website are protected under copyright. Living Water Publications © ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­2017 All rights reserved.
www.livingwaterpublications.org