The Fires of God’s Love

God hears our cries despite the crevice of sin between us.

I get the text message in Brussels, while lying on the floor of the airport, my backpack serving as my pillow. I’m on my way to West Africa; soon I’ll board the last leg of my journey into Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Aiden, my oldest son, has messaged me. It’s two in the morning back home and he informs me that Kasher, my 11-year-old, has been crying all night and can’t sleep because he misses me.

My chest feels like a hollowed-out watermelon. I need to go home. I need to hug my boy. I need to wipe away his tears. A thousand miles lie between us, yet in that moment, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to rescue him from his pain. If it wasn’t for a missionary man who came up to me in that exact moment, sharing his story of training up the church in Africa, of how his wife had died on the mission field, of how God asks us to make huge sacrifices for the kingdom, I might not have made it to Africa. 

My son ended up being fine, as he always is, but those moments are crucibles. Our love for God is placed over the fire, the residue rising. 

A more furious fire 

A week after returning home from West Africa, I’m seated on the couch in our living room overlooking a farm of fields, thick under a white duvet of snow. I’m reading the Bible, but am suddenly struck by the thought that if my children were to reject Christ and end up in hell, there would be no escape for them. There would be no return ticket. No rescuing them from the pain they’re in. They might weep and they might hurt and they might regret and they might lie awake for a million nights, but no one could come for them.

And I weep, thinking of God’s hollowed-out chest, how it must ache for His children, the ones He tried to reach – the ones He sent His son for. Yet the gap remains across the thousands of miles between, the great crevice created by sin. And I think how He, the God of the universe, the omnipresent, can still hear their cries, how He chooses to feel the fires, how He moved heaven and earth to make a way for His precious children to come close to Him, yet there comes a time when the door closes, and there’s no going back.

A forever home 

They feel like my children – all those who suffer. And my blood courses with the fervour of Paul who says, “I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart. For I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my own flesh and blood… To them belong the adoption…” (Rom. 9:1-5)

My kids return from school and I kiss their freckled cheeks, pull them close, as if to tuck them back into my heart. Because one day they will be the ones leaving. And I’ll be the one lying sleepless, missing them. But so long as we can rejoice one day forever in a heavenly home, the miles are but a moment, and the parting but a passing. 

And so we fight, to bring into God’s kingdom those who still have a chance, who can still be rescued, who still stand on this side of eternity. 


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