(caveat: I am not suggesting anyone endure physical or emotional abuse. Be safe and get help, please!)
The photo is the front door of the little house with the screen door out back; these front steps are filled with love.
Love that keeps on coming. Love that gets slapped down and gets up again to keep loving. Love that refuses to quit.
I used to read the verse, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18) and other verses like it (1 Cor. 15:49, Romans 8:29) that talk about being like Christ, and I’d think, “Oh, yes, God, that’s what I want to be!”
Did I? Did I want to be the one who’s betrayed and comes back, bleeding, but loving still? Did I really want to be the one who endures accusations, condemnation and lies, and looks beyond the sin to see the wounding of the sinner and to forgive? Is that what I really wanted? I never looked that deeply into what it cost God to bring us to him, because that’s the reality of being like Jesus: love that never turns away, never gives up! Love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Cor. 13: 7)
In frustration I often cry out, “God, why don’t you . . . why aren’t you . . . .?” My real question – as Philip Yancey writes in his book “Disappointment with God” – should be, “God, why do you bother to . . . . What is it that drives you to love me still in the face of my anger, my accusations, my condemnation, my apathy, my lies about your motives and your heart? Why don’t you give up on me?”
My real question should be why Jesus had to die to prove God’s love for us. Yes, I know Jesus’ blood atones for us. But God isn’t bloodthirsty., so why did it require that? I wonder – is it in part because our sixth love language (beyond affirming words, loving touch, giving gifts, acts of service, and quality time) , the bottom line we humans all understand, the one we all hold out for and perhaps even demand as proof of love, is blood: sacrificing your own life for mine? That we understand – maybe, until some circumstance or event that doesn’t go according to our plans causes us to question God’s heart. I’m not condemning you, my readers; I’ve done that myself, and I know it comes out of pain and confusion.
Even after Jesus shed his own blood and God sacrificed his beloved Son, we don’t believe God loves us! Is it that perhaps some stubborn, self-preserving pride drives us to deny such love?
“No, my circumstances tell me . . . . ” “But I don’t feel your love, God . . . .” Perversely somehow we’d rather think we’re right that God doesn’t love us than come to him in humbled recognition that there’s no reason on earth that God should love us – no reason besides WHO GOD IS himself: completely LOVE!
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16
I can hardly read the computer screen through the tears flooding from my recognition of the extravagant, unjustified, unrelenting love of God. My tears come, too, from the knowledge that I had to endure betrayal – and that I had to recognize the lies I had held onto, also, that kept me from loving unrelentingly – to finally get it in my gut that God IS love, nothing but love, purely and unceasingly love.
This conforming business hurts – but rather than resent God for the pain, I see and now hunger to press in to the truth that Jesus bore, and bears joyfully, even deeper pain to love me. In the scariest valley of my life, I am rejoicing and reveling like a glutton in the passionate, unrelenting love God has for me – so I can get up and love again, and again, and again.
Why won’t you come through the screen door into arms waiting to embrace you? What circumstances in your life are big enough to outweigh the relentless, extravagant love of God in Jesus? What are you holding out for?
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Why won’t you love with his love? Who won’t you love with his love?
A “ . . . but . . . “ to pray: God, ABBA Father, Daddy, maybe not in my mind, but in my heart I have denied your love for me over and over again, BUT who are you, what kind of love can this be that loves in the face of pain, again and again and again? I want that love for me and in me. Maybe I’m still too scared to truly want it through me, BUT because you love me, I am willing to love this one who keeps denying and rejecting my love. Hold my hand and hold my heart as I keep loving, and please give me joy along the way so I can persist and pursue and bear your likeness in me.
Your own “. . . but . . .” to pay: Father God, Jesus, lover of my soul, I have denied your love for me because _________________________________ BUT I lay that down in the face of your relentless love, and I say to you now _____________________. I’ve been hurt so badly that I don’t want to keep loving ________________, BUT ___________________.