Everything I need to know about the love of God I learned from my Mother’s bathroom closet. I know that sounds weird. But if you bear with me, I think you will understand.
I currently live over one thousand miles from my parents’ home in Southern Michigan. When I am in their region for ministry, I often stay with them. It is always a privilege to get one of Mom’s home-cooked meals, and I enjoy catching up on family news and conversation. But the best part of being there is a secret I found in their bathroom closet.
Their bathroom closet probably looks a lot like yours. One shelf has a variety of toiletries, medicines, combs, brushes, hair dryers, and hand-held mirrors. There’s a magazine on another shelf along with a pile of old towels and washcloths stacked in the back. All in all, it is a pretty normal bathroom closet.
Yet the most amazing thing happens in that closet. Somehow, every time I go to take a shower, the nicest, thickest, newest towel they own magically makes its way to the top of the stack. Most of the towels they own are well worn and thin from years of use. But invariably when I reach in the closet to grab a towel, that one special towel will be waiting for me on the top of the pile. It’s a white, all-cotton towel with thin blue stripes on it. It is lush and thick. It is the nicest one they own, and somehow it is always on the top of the heap when it is my turn to get cleaned up.
I began noticing this phenomenon some time ago and began looking into it further without my Mother’s knowledge. One time I surprised my folks and stopped in to spend a few days with them unannounced. I arrived at the house when they were gone and made my way to the bathroom closet. Opening the closet door, I looked in the back and found the magical towel way down in the pile. But later that night when I went to take a shower, with no one using the bath before me, somehow that towel had made its way to the top of the stack.
Now I know this sounds silly, and I am pretty sure I am not talking about the paranormal here. In fact, I believe there is a very simple explanation for how this towel is always waiting for me on the top of the pile: my mother loves me. I am confident that she is sneaking into the bathroom to put that towel on top so it is there when it is my turn to get cleaned up. Why? It is because she loves me.
My mother doesn’t love me because I do nice things for her, although I am sure she appreciates the kindness. She loves me simply because I am her son. It is part of her nature to love me because she gave birth to me. I can blow it and be inconsiderate. She still loves me. Sometimes I can say stupid things. She still loves me. I can hurt her without meaning to. She still loves me. I can forget to call. She still loves me. She loves me, and I love her for that. And because she loves me, she always wants the very best for me, including the nicest towel she owns.
That’s why I say that everything I needed to know about the love of God I learned from my Mother’s bathroom closet. God always wants the very best for me. I am his son. I can blow it, and he still loves me. I can stiff arm him and try to make life work on my own, and he still loves me. It is his nature to love me. It is part of who he is. It is his character to love me. He loves me, and I love him for that.
Are you aware that God loves you? Do you understand that he always wants the very best for you? It was his love for you that caused him to give you his very best – his one and only Son. It was his love for you that caused him to make a way so that you could have a real, personal relationship with him. But it doesn’t end there. When I understand in a small way how much God loves me, I can trust him more in uncertain circumstances. When things don’t seem to be working the way I think they should, I can remember the towel and know that it is all going to be alright. It is because he loves me. And because he always wants the best for me, I can rest in that knowledge when things may not seem to be going my way.
Not only that, but the love I have for God is a direct result of the love he has shown to me. I love God because he first loved me. I love him because I am aware of his kindness to me in the smallest details of my life. Often it is the little thing he does for me that causes me to pause and thank him for his love to me. I am grateful for his love. I am motivated to love him when I understand in a small way his love for me. I am humbled when I realize how often he has intervened in my life as an expression of his love for me. I am so very blessed.
Consider these verses from John’s first letter to the Church:
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11, ESV).
“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19, ESV).
Today, celebrate this love that God has shown to us. Look around you for those moments when God puts the towel on the top of the pile for you. Then, out of the overflow of that love, love others as well.
I have a feeling that when my Mother reads this she will deny any knowledge of the towel mystery. She will say I am being silly. And I will just smile and agree with her. After all, it’s probably just the same aliens who do the crop circles. But when it’s my turn to take a shower, and I reach into the closet to grab that towel off the top of the pile, I will smile and say a little prayer, thanking the Lord for loving me with a Mother like that.
He always gives the very best.
This article was originally published in the May 2014 Newsletter.