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Love shared by dad, child lasts forever
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One day I asked Chloe, "Do you know how much Daddy loves you?"

She shook her head. "I love you to forever and back," I replied.

I don’t know what prompted me to say it, whether I heard it somewhere else or if I came up with it on my own right at that moment.

Regardless, I’ve said it enough that she’s picked up on it. Now when I ask her, "How much does Daddy love you?" she says without hesitation (and with a huge grin on her face), "To forever and back."

I’m amazed at how easily she accepts my love. I have never once told her that I love her to forever and back only to hear her respond, "Really? Are you sure? What about that thing I did yesterday? What about that comment I made this morning? I can see you loving Mommy and Cole and even the dog that much, but can you really feel the same way about me?"

Questions. Qualifying statements. "Can-it-really-be" deliberations. I hear none of those things come out of her mouth. Then again, she’s 5. She has no concept of anything other than unconditional love from her daddy.

Yet we sometimes put those kinds of questions to God’s declarations of love for us, don’t we? We bring up past issues, past mistakes, past rebellions and wonder, "Can it really be that God loves me in spite of all that?"

I find it strange that some people often reject God’s love out of a personal sense of conditions. Yet God places no conditions on his love for us.

I wonder if we do it because human love is so conditional. "I love you if you do this for me." "I love you if you love me in return." "I love you if it’s convenient for me." Ever had someone say something like that to you? Can we really, honestly say that is what true love is?

Our heavenly father makes no such comments. Our heavenly father sets no such conditions. His declaration of love is pure, holy, righteous — without condition or restriction. Romans 10:13 says, "For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved" — no ifs, no ands, no buts.

It doesn’t matter who you are or who you aren’t. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what you haven’t done.

What truly matters is who God is, what he’s done, and how much he loves you.

He loves you to forever and back.

Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville. His column appears every other week in Sunday Life.