“I don’t love him. I can’t.”

These words came out of my mouth when a friend questioned me about my relationship with — and feelings toward — my father. My father was an alcoholic. In his drunken state, he created many painful memories. At one point, my mother ended up in the hospital because of his uncontrolled actions.

In response to my protest, he simply suggested I ask God to give me His love for my father.

As I began to pray, the words, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another” came to mind. Was God suggesting that I owed a debt to my father, a debt of love?

I realized God, who is perfect, loves me without conditions. If God could love and forgive me in all my failing, how could I not extend the same to my father? I asked God to give me the capability to love and forgive my father. Slowly I began to see him through God’s eyes.

The day came. I said the words to my father — words I had never heard from him — “I love you.” He wept. Debt paid.

This step of faith changed the course of our relationship and gave me a deeper understanding of what God’s love can do. I’m so grateful my friend challenged me to love my father and so thankful to God for His love and forgiveness, and for His presence in my life, which gives me the capacity to love. Is there someone you need to love who has been unloveable?

Father God, thank you for your forgiveness and unreserved love. I need your wisdom and strength to love as you love. Thank you for your unlimited resources to live life to the full each day so that I can pay the debt of love to the people you have placed in my life. Amen

Go Deeper — Have you experienced God’s love and forgiveness? If you are not sure, here’s my story. Now, think of all the “close in” people in your life: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, or children. Are you withholding love? Is there someone who needs to experience God’s love through you? Have you paid your debt?

Read Further — You, too, can get rid of all bitterness. Here is one person’s story.

Tags: Romans Romans 13
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop