What do I, the oldest of three boys, know about raising three girls? Answer: Nothing! Nada, zilch. But I am learning! They make sure of that. It has been on-the-job training from the first moment they were placed in my arms. I vowed early in the game, “These little girls will know my arms in hope of preventing them from running to the arms of another.”

All three have had their boyfriends. I don’t like writing about it and even less talking about it, but my ignoring the subject doesn’t stop them from having hopes and dreams of one day meeting their knight in shining armor. My hope is that in each case he will be a young Warrior, a settled beloved son who pursues my daughter’s deep heart and invites her on an adventure rather than trying to make her the adventure.

Teenage girls aren’t the only ones who’ve gotten in trouble through their longing to be part of a larger story. Boys, too, long desperately to matter to someone—to be significant. For better or worse, it’s a condition we will not outgrow. To understand this longing and how it lures men to things other than the Father’s love, we must return to the baseline of our story, the environment into which we were born: war.

We live in a fallen world where war is the reality. And in war, people get wounded. The enemy’s ruthless and constant assault on our hearts is accomplished solely because of what we were created for, what our hearts are meant for, what little girls and boys never stop hoping and longing for as they become grown women and men. It is summed up in the phrase:

“I want someone to see me, want me, and love me.” Our hearts were meant to experience and enjoy love.

Love is the greatest thing in the whole universe and love is capital-L Life. It is the conditional kind that is the source of our greatest woundings and the unconditional kind that is the source of our greatest healings.

We are most alive when we are receiving or offering love. That explains why we so often try to make love and life happen on our own rather than let our Creator fill and sustain us. But our own efforts to fill our love tank don’t work. It’s as C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:

God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion (faith). God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.

“God is love,” wrote the apostle John. So I propose that love is the fuel our hearts are meant to run on, because love is what we so desperately long for and need. But there is no love without God and without God there is no love. Anywhere, anytime, anyway in which love is expressed or experienced, God is there. Whether or not the Father is acknowledged or credited or honored in that moment, if it is loving, he is there in the middle of it.

It doesn’t have to be between Christians by the way; God is much bigger than that. His fondness for us from afar often makes God the great Secret Admirer. Oh, I believe He would rather be seen, acknowledged, and known; yet patiently he waits.

God fondly looks on, waiting and wanting to be noticed, looking forward to the day when introductions are made and a romance for the ages begins. He watches over many of us as we take our hearts to sources other than himself, including other image-bearers, in a vain attempt to fuel ourselves and meet our deepest need.

Much relational bankruptcy boils down to the manner in which we make withdrawals from one another rather than deposits into one another. The Father’s love is continually, lavishly, and even fiercely in play. It waits, and will continue to wait, for us to grasp its reality and experience its joy more and more fully. God waits, all the while loving us, wooing us, wanting us—all of us who bear his image.

In your time alone with God:

Who has he put in your life to teach you how to love?

How’s it going? (Look back at 1 Corinthians 13 for a full resume of what He is attempting to partner with you and others to produce in your life).

Who or what are you turning to for Love (validation, acceptance and worth)? And if you are experiencing any love at all, what if that is God?