When my kids were growing up, we had a chalkboard in our kitchen. Painted on it were the words: I love you more than _______. You could fill in the blank with whatever you wanted. It was a fun activity. The target reader could be one member of the family, all of us, or any combination of the four. For the most part what we wrote was non-committal and the board was merely a reflection of our everyday lives. The kids wrote things that were easy like: I love you more than riding bikes and I love you more than camping. These were true feelings, but not exactly deep, life-altering statements.
Sometimes the chalkboard didn’t necessarily express love for the reader, but rather the intense dislike for something else. We had: I love you more than poison ivy and I love you more than cleaning bathrooms.
My daughter, Abbey, often used the board with a sarcastic tone to express her feelings of displeasure with the family dynamics. I love you more than being grounded was a favorite of hers in middle school. Probably the closest we have ever came to the board being meaningful was when my son, Creed, penned: I love you more than Xbox. Those were big words.
I wonder what the chalkboard would have looked like if it hadn’t been dictated by our emotions or circumstances. As much as we want to say and believe we are capable of unconditional love, we rarely get it right because we bring along experiences and baggage which cause our love to wax and wane. I’m not suggesting we don’t love our families, friends and neighbors — but I do believe we lack consistency in the degree and intensity. A steadfast, unchanging love for all people should be our goal.
If God had a chalkboard of love, you would always be His target audience. His message wouldn’t change based on His mood, your behavior, or the circumstances of life. God’s chalkboard of love would say things like: I love you more than YOU KNOW. I love you more than YOU CAN IMAGINE. I love you more than ANYTHING. And under each He would add the word: Always!
May we, as image bearers of God, love like He loves — always.
Kim Wheeler is the Adult Ministry Director at Christ Fellowship in Kingsport.