Formations 07.11.2021: A Fierce Love

Zechariah 2

Before my children’s births, people told me about the fierce love of a parent. “There’s nothing like the love you’ll have for your kids.” “It’s like watching your heart walk around outside your body.” “You’ll be like a Mama Bear when it comes to your children.” “You’ll feel a love so strong it hurts.”

These people were right. From the moment our daughters entered our lives, my husband and I have loved them fiercely. Our love looks different because we’re different people: his is more about preparing them to be independent adults in the world, and mine is more about helping them through current moments of struggle and grief. But together, our love is protective, challenging, encouraging, secure, adoring, and, yes, fierce. We want our daughters to be good humans, and we give them boundaries and discipline as needed. But if someone hurts them deliberately, it’s like they’re hurting us too. Don’t mess with our girls!

Today’s passage gives us a glimpse into the fierce, parental love of God. God established boundaries for the people and allowed them to endure the consequences of breaking those boundaries. They were scattered “like the four winds of heaven” (v. 6). This was part of God’s love. But now God is calling them home! “Truly,” God says “one who touches you touches the apple of my eye” (v. 8). The people are precious to God, and someone has hurt them, so now God will draw them back their homeland. “Escape to Zion,” God tells them (v. 6), and God promises to punish those who have hurt them (v. 9).

Mama Bear, indeed. It’s hard to be a parent—or anyone who has children in their care. Kids are strong-willed, impulsive, often too curious, and sometimes heedless of boundaries. They can get hurt, and when they do, it hurts those of us who care for them.

It must grieve God, too, when we live in ways that go against the example Jesus set for us. It must hurt God when we get hurt. The good news is that God loves us with a fierce, parental love. God is always calling us back, longing to “come and dwell in [our] midst” (v. 10).

Let’s find comfort and security in God’s fierce love. And let’s try to respect God’s boundaries as we rest in that love.

Discussion

• Whom do you love with a fierce love? How do you express this love, and how does the person receive it from you?
• How do you feel when the person you love so fiercely is hurt?
• Why do children need both boundaries and boundless love?
• What qualities of a good parent does God demonstrate in this passage?
• How does it feel to know that God loves you with a fierce, parental love—that you are “the apple of [God’s] eye” (v. 8)?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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