"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." John 15:9 (NIV)
I read books about it. I listened to sermons about it. I wrote about it. I sang about it. I thought about it. I was completely immersed. So why couldn't I get it?
God loves me.
It's a simple truth. How could a 44-year-old woman who has loved Jesus since she was 10 not feel loved by God?
Deep down I was going through the motions of believing ... hoping ... but truthfully, I had fallen into the mindset of working for God's love and acceptance. I could have given a theological dissertation on grace and salvation by faith, but my perfectionistic, I'll-do-it-myself attitude blocked a full, heart-changing understanding.
One day I blurted out to a dear friend and mentor, "Why can't I feel the love of God? I'm working so hard!"
She let the silence sit before a big grin spread across her face. "Did you hear yourself?" she asked.
"You can't work to know the love of God. You need to rest in the love of God." Then she encouraged me to relax and pray, asking God to reveal His love to me in a deep, transforming way.
Several months later, still in the midst of my wrestling match to understand God's lavish love, my eyes drank in the site of a bent and wrinkled woman wearing a bridal veil and carrying a tattered bouquet of silk flowers as she hobbled down an aisle of women. I was in Kolkata, India, helping with a mock wedding at a women's conference. Although the atmosphere and the message on being Jesus' bride was largely celebratory, tears streamed down the old woman's face.
The scene gripped my heart. Here was an elderly woman who, because of the fear and superstition of her native religion, missed the love of God most of her life. He, however, had loved, drawn, and wooed her heart. She had resisted until the onset of sickness and the pronouncement of her numbered days spurred her to abandon everything to take hold of His love.
As she walked feebly down that aisle, His love healed her of a lifetime of hurts and made her radiant and strong, despite her fragile frame.
As I watched her weep, something broke inside me. I found myself kneeling on the cold, concrete floor sobbing.
In John 15:9, Jesus tells His followers, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."
Growing up, I learned of His love every day as my mother and father watched me mature from an infant to an awkward teenager. But I didn't stay and rest in His limitless love that had surrounded me from birth to adulthood.
I had walked into a place of self-sufficiency that left me with a weary hollowness that only God's presence and love could fill.
Seeing an impoverished, old woman who had little left to give to God be fully encompassed in His love illuminated truth like a piercing ray of sunshine through a foggy morning.
It's a simple truth. He loves me, not because I have anything to give Him, but simply because I'm His. God doesn't call me to manufacture a feeling but simply to rest in His love and remain it.
He loves you too. Limitlessly. Profoundly. Lavishly. Relax, rest and bask in His love today.
Dear Lord, Your very nature is love. You surround me and fill me with it just because of who You are. Help me to rest and remain in Your love instead of walking in the exhaustion of my own efforts. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
What makes you feel loved? Reflect and journal about times that God has revealed His love for you in these ways.
Pray and ask God to help you remember evidences of His love and to see new ones today. Relax and watch.
Jeremiah 31:3, "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" (NIV 1984)
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