There I was at six in the morning, our two dogs Jenga and Katie ahead of me tugging at their leashes, eager to blaze a trail down the neighborhood sidewalks. I used the otherwise mindless time for intercessory prayer for lots of people and nations on my heart list, but I wasn’t expecting God to speak over and into ME.
Two years earlier I’d said a hug-filled, tearful goodbye to my older son, daughter-in-love, and their two-year-old son, my only grandchild, as they left to follow their calling, at the end of eleven years of higher education, literally on the other side of the world. I was proud of them both, but that didn’t make it any easier in knowing that it would be years before I’d see them again. Would my grandson even know me?
Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, we were able to video call them, but that wasn’tanywhere nearly the same as holding my grandson in my arms or giving his mom and dad big hugs and sharing time with them in parks, at the zoo, camping together, or baking them cakes for their birthdays. I had so many questions for God over those two years, but still that morning I stopped in my tracks when in my spirit I heard the Holy Spirit quietly, simply say, “I know how much it costs you.”
The rush of love I felt lifted me and lifted at least a big part of the burden of loss I’d carried. After hearing those seven simple words, it was so much easier for me to live with the ongoing separation. God DID know and God DID care about how much it cost me, cost them,and cost my daughter-in-law’s family,too. Just knowing God valued our community sacrifice placed a fresh peace in my heart.
Little did I know that would be the easiest loss I’d have to bear in the next eleven years. Two even more painful, permanent losses were ahead of me. NOTE: I’m not writing today to gain anyone’s “sympathy,” but to consider a question we don’t generally hear God asking us: “Do you know how much it cost me to send my Son Jesus to die in your place on the cross?”
I think we skillfully skirt the question by thinking, “Well, God is God, after all, and he doesn’t feel the things I feel. Besides, he knew Jesus would be back in Heaven with him when it was all over. And Jesus was God as well as man, so it didn’t hurt him like it would have hurt a real human being ….”
Don’t kid yourself! Where do you think we get our capacity to love, to care, and to feel emotional pain and loss, if not from the very core and nature and essence of God, placed by God within us? I suspect our tendency when life pierces us with grief, pain, disappointments and loss is to put the blame on God. Really? Does God make you choose your choices? If you freely make your choices, then so does every other human being on the planet, including those people who through loss or wounding in their own lives or, yes, through the influence of evil – which DOES exist and has a mindful, intentional source hell-bent on perverting God’s creation.
The two painful losses I’ve felt since then came through wounded people who sought some kind of balm for their pain apart from the healing and deliverance and love God himself wanted and still wants to give them. Their projected pain destroyed two marriages, one by divorce, and one by death. Neither loss was “easy” to bear.so the question to me became where I would “lay blame” and what I would do with my grief and pain. I’ve decided, and frankly, this has been an ongoing act of my will (okay, stubbornness, because I WILL choose love) and my hope in God’s transforming goodness, that I WILL NOT swallow Satan’s baited hook of offense and let bitterness poison my heart toward those who made destructive choices OR toward God.
Oh yes, I’ve asked God WHY countless times, and he’s heard my cries of anguish. I go back again to those seven words I heard twelve years ago, “I know how much it costs you.”I know this, too: part of my pain from the first loss comes from my own human weakness in not being able to totally surrender the process and outcome to God much,much earlier in the journey. And on God’s behalf, he has continually told me what he told me on December 6, 2012,”You’re worth fighting for,” three months later”You are my chosen child,” and after that, “Do not fear what man tries to do to you,” and “I’m trying to bless you. You have to LET me,” and God showed me through the many “coincidences” I’ve written about on this blog, that he is still with me, he still loves me, and he has, somehow, redemptive transforming plans and redemptive purposes for goodness greater than I can see now. Satan does plan to kill,steal anddestroy, but Jesus more powerfully cameandcomes with abundant life. I remind myself that Satan has absolutely no reason to harrass and hassle people who already belong to/got hooked and deceived by him. He has plenty of reason to try to dislodge God’s people who live out their God-given purposes from believing that God truly does love them and has plans to turn what Satan ploanned for evil for their good. (Romans 8:28) I personalize that – in all things God IS WORKING for my good as his child who loves him, is deeply loved by him and is called by his purposes.
It often boils down to “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That and the knowledge that yes, it cost God more than any of us can begin to fathom or grasp to send Jesus here, God in the flesh, to live out the healing, deliverance, and life-infusing purpose and love ABBA God wants to give to each person on Earth.
That, and the knowledge that it grieves God, wounds God, pains God when we reject his gift of transforming love and eternal life and forever relationship with him through accepting Jesus’ sacrifice in our place. Grace is free, but don’t ever think that it came cheap. It cost Almighty God more than we can begin to fathom. And don’t think that you can receive that gift without a cost to you: recognizing, through genuine fact-facing surrender of your self-righteousness that yes, you are sinful by nature, then through repentance, that you could never be pure or righteous enough or do enough “good deeds” to EARN relationship with an unimaginably holy, pure, righteous, powerful, just God,andthen receivingthe gift of salvation Jesus paid for FOR you. Oh,how that grates on our American “I can pull myself up by my bootstraps” self-sufficiency and self-determination. God is love, but/and/while he is all of that, he is likewise perfect, fiery holiness, purity, righteousness, authority, and justice as well. He satisfied all of his nature without compromise when Jesus took the punishment andpaid the penalty for our sins, and that means MINE as well as YOURS.
The justice I seek is against my real enemy, Satan, the abuser and wounder and liar of all liars and perverter of all that is good and holy and kind and loving and true. For that reason I have given up “seeking justice” on my own. If you’ve seen the recent movie”The Shack,” you heard this, and I echo the truth that I DON’T WANT TO BE ANYBODY’S JUDGE! I save that for God alone, and I pray for the true revelation of the price of God’s love and for true repentance that will lead the people who’ve hurt me straight into the Cross and arms and transforming love of Jesus.
Yes, it cost me. It costs the price of living with injustice even as I try to live out of and live out the love that God has lavishly given me. Expanded hearts can feel more pain, but they can also receive,contain, and pour out more love. Jesus did it first, for YOU and me!
I heard Jason Gray sing this song live seven years ago just two miles from my house, in, yes, FREE concert tickets God gave me. Do you think HE knew I’d need to remember and cling onto this truth? I know I need to fearlessly run into the loving arms of the ONE who knows how much it costs me, and run to him fearlessly because I know how much it costs HIM to love me.
And yeah, absolutely, if you’d like to pray for me today, go for it! I admittedly,honestly need to be able to hear the Holy Spirit more clearly and trust God more fervently than I do, and joyfully love while I’m waiting on HIS outcomes, knowing his desire for me is to live in joy and hope in him! He paid for this, and I want to receive it fully!