We use a lot of words to describe love and God’s love in particular. Some of the words are common to our everyday language, and some are hardly ever heard in daily conversation.
We often describe God’s love with words like “awesome” or “amazing”, and these are good words. They just have lost some of their true meaning because we use these words to describe so many things that in reality are not even comparable to God’s love. I can watch SportsCentre for 2 minutes and hear “awesome” and “amazing” used to describe some act of athleticism or a lucky bounce of the ball.
On the other extreme are words that are, well, boring. I have never heard anyone say, “Hey, you have to meet my friend Joe. He is so steadfast!” No one gets excited about steadfastness; though, it is an excellent quality. It is also an adjective that has to be true about God’s love. Without being steadfast, God’s love would be subject to failing us, which it does not; it cannot.
Many other words can be used to describe God’s love. You may have some that are your favourite right now for one reason or another. I am not suggesting that word isn’t a perfectly good word; in fact, it may be just the word you need right now to get you through the day. I have a favourite word to describe God’s love: extravagant.
I was driving in to work one morning. At the time I was going into the office, about a 40 minute drive, twice a week. To replace the devotional time I had the mornings I worked from home, I spent the drive time listening to worship music. One morning singing along with the CD, one line really stuck out: “Your love is extravagant”, the title line of a Casting Crowns song.
What really hit me about “extravagant” is that its use in everyday life is limited, but it brings a certain cache with it. You know what it means, but it isn’t a word you use every day; it is saved for special circumstances.
When we talk about extravagant, we talk about something over the top; more than was necessary or beyond what is common. Think of a royal wedding or a celebrity’s mansion. It has everything you could want or need. Even when you think you have seen everything, there is more.
That is just like God’s love. It is full, complete and just when you think you have reached the end of that love you look up to see you are wrapped right in the middle of it. It is more than enough; it is beyond comprehension. It’s underserved but freely given, necessary yet uncommon. It exceeds the limits of reason; we can’t fully grasp its wholeness.
Let’s not forget that extravagant can be used in the negative sense. You know what I mean, the extravagant demands you hear about in entertainment news. Some diva needs a bowl full of green, and only green, M&Ms in her dressing room (remember all the colours taste the same). You know what, that is the kind of love God shows us. It is so outrageous and catered to each one of us. It knows exactly what we need and what is perfectly suited for us.
God’s love is not a one size fits all. Oh yes, it is for everyone, and there is no excluding anyone from that love. It is unique to each person.
God’s love is amazing, steadfast and awesome, but when those words just don’t seem to communicate the meaning, go beyond the everyday words and focus on just how extravagant it is.