Wednesday, September 16, 2015

It's All About Love

Have you ever experienced something incredible, but struggle to put it into words?

Lately, that is how I feel when trying to talk about my relationship with God. When asked to share my testimony, I can talk for hours but still feel like I left out a boatload of critical information. Thinking about it, it does make sense in a way. God is indescribably wonderful in so many ways, and so it fits that I have a hard time detailing all his work in my life. 

I have come to believe that reflection is good— powerful, even. So in light of this fact, I am seeking to look back over the last couple years and see what God has done through one overarching theme: 

Love.

It sounds so simple, and yet so complex. For years I struggled with the concept of loving God, because I really didn't. Love God, that is. If you had asked me during that time if I loved God, I would have retorted defensively, "Yeah! Of course I do! Would I be involved in ministries A, B, and C, and doing all these (insert "Christian" activities") if I didn't?"

That was the heart of my love problem. I defined my relationship with God based on what I did, and not on an actual thriving love-based relationship. The reason I would answer so gruffly was because deep down in my soul, I knew that I didn't love God as I should. My outside actions were an attempt to fill what was missing in my heart. For some reason I lived under the misconception that doing things for God would somehow bring me close to him. 

Praise be to God, for he didn't leave me in that place. He saw me in my self-made bondage of pride and self-righteousness, and he loved me anyway. In the depth of my confusion, he met me through a Bible study and a book, Crazy Love

Sitting on the swing in my backyard, I came to the realization that I didn't love God, and probably would never be able to love him as he deserves. In the moment of recognizing my utter inadequacy, I cried out to God, asking him to give me love for him.

This is the part that is so crazy to me. God loves us wretched, broken sinners, while knowing that we don't even have the capacity to love him as he is worthy to be loved. Yet, he is faithful. He heard my cry of helplessness and he answered. 

Over the next few days, I started to sense something I never had before—a desire to spend time with God in his word. One day I just sat there, crying because I longed to be face to face with my God. As I grew closer to God, studying his word and praying to him, everything else started to fade a little bit. The things that used to annoy me weren't quite as important any more. My self-esteem and self-righteousness seemed petty in the presence of a holy God. 

Day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, he is changing me. No longer do I have to muscle my way through the fight against sin. In loving God, I have learned to repent and be healed. Most of the time I don't even see the changes in my heart until they are already done. Like the time when a friend said I was "encouraging." I was totally taken aback, because I know myself to be a harsh, sarcastic person who cuts people down with her words. All I could say was, "It must be you, God." 

Because of God's work in my life, I now love to spend time with him every day. He has given me a joy in his word that I have never experienced before, and I go to sleep at night excited to be with him the next morning. God's work is truly miraculous, and I can say with absolute certainty that "his love is better than life."

There is so much more I could say on this topic, but I think God is telling me to leave it here.
I must ask you, though: Do you know the love of God? Don't answer right away. All those verses you have memorized, the sermon notes in a stack by your bed, and the many hours you spent in children's ministry may say nothing about how in love you are with God. 
Dear brother or sister, don't feel defeated if you know you don't love God as he deserves. Just come to him, ask him, and he will show himself faithful. We serve a gracious and loving God. 


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