When we get together with our California cousins, there may be minimal kissin’ but there’s always lots of huggin’ as we renew relationships. We were raised through our formative years one block apart in the Chicago neighborhood of Sauganash, living in and out of each other’s houses day to day. Our dads also shared ownership of a small Michigan summer cottage, and the 7 of us frolicked on the beach together, bonding like siblings.
When our uncle decided to leave Chicago for a dream job in Los Angeles, our cousin-world shattered while we watched their family pack up and go. But over the years, our 4 parents put forth great effort to keep relationships fresh by arranging for us to criss-cross the country again and again to spend chunks of time together. When I hit the college years, I got to live and work with these sibling-like cousins for 3 delightful summers.
Now, as we all careen through middle age with old age coming into view, our 4 parents have graduated to heaven. But the ties that bind seem more significant than ever. Mary, Tom and I just returned from week in California with these cousins, dubbing our trip “Operation Quality Time.”
Just studying each other’s faces was a reminder that time is rushing along and will one day run out for each of us. Although some of us had to radically rearrange schedules to put 5 free days together, we determined we’d fight obstacles as long as possible in a continuing effort to carve out chunks of togetherness.
So what’s the strong pull? What’s worth plane tickets, car rentals, turning the world upsidedown, and adjusting to a different time zone?
Everybody likes to spend time with the ones they love. The pull is powerful. But our capacity to love is nothing compared to God’s. He’s drawn to us much like we’re drawn to our cousins but with a far greater intensity and depth. In Scripture he refers to himself as abounding in love toward us, which means overflowing with more love than we could ever absorb.
God describes his love as unfailing, priceless, and purposely directed toward people. He says he’ll love us beyond the end of time and that he’ll never pick and choose to love some and not others. He loves the whole world and will do so throughout eternity.
Now that our California visit has ended, the cousin-resolve to see each other again is strong, because our time together renewed our love.
But God’s love never needs renewing. Thankfully, it remains strong always, in all ways.
“The Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)