1 John 4:10-12 (MSG) This is how God showed His love for us. God sent His only Son into the world so we might live through Him. This is the kind of love we are talking about – not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love!
1 John 4:19 (MSG) We, though, are going to love – love and be loved, First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
God Is Love!!! There is no way to get around that. You see it all around you, in the beauty surrounding us, in the colors, the sounds of nature, the taste of food, all are meant to draw us in to the greatest love story of all. This beauty is there to woo us into a love story with God. It is not a fairy tale kind of love, but a real, deep, abiding love. God is the place where your soul can rest. When we experience this love, this peace, this rest, we can face things that are too hard to face on our own. There is a lot of dark in this word, but God, He is light. He is the only light that can shine in our deepest, darkest pain.
I know that a lot of people struggle with this concept. If God is so loving, why does He let these ______________ things happen. You can fill in your own blank, everyone has their own questions. Unfortunately there are other forces at work, but we put all that blame on the One who truly is love. He loves like a Father, a friend, a lover and so much more than that. These descriptions of love are such a pale and empty shadow of the love that is incredibly real, life giving, joy bursting, able to face anything kind of love. God can love like no other. He is love, it is His name, His creation, without God there would be nothing, no love. He is the author and creator of love. He is the perfector of love. There is nothing lacking in His love, actually it is too much, too perfect. It is a flood, a storm in it’s intensity. When I have opened my soul up a little to feel His love, I have felt like I am in too deep, like I am in the eye of a hurricane. It is too much for this human heart, but my soul knows this love is good, and craves it. We were made for this kind of love, that is why we search so desperately for it. We won’t find it anywhere else. When I have allowed God to show me His deep love for me, I tremble for the whole day, even when I get a glimpse of it. The intensity, unbelievable!
I have had questions, and felt like I had the right to question God’s goodness. God can see the pain, but He is God, the Creator, He doesn’t have to answer to us. He is the one in authority. We are the creation, not the creator, we are the masterpiece, but we are not the artist. We will never know what God does, we will never see the whole picture. We in our humanness, only see our little bit in the story, in our selfishness, we call God to account for His actions or what seems like inaction. God is patient with us, like a Father is to his child. A child asks a lot of questions, a father answers that child in a way that they can understand. He does not flood a toddler with explainations that are not within their understanding. A good father will expain in a way they can understand, knowing the limitations, and experience that the child has. If he tries to tell the child the answer in a way an adult understands, it is too much and the toddler will not be able to comprehend what is being said to them and become confused. It is the same with God, we are infants in our ability to understand God and His ways and thoughts. If He tried to explain to us our why’s, what if’s, when’s and how’s, we would get lost in His words and thoughts. God knows what we can handle, what we will be able to comprehend. He tries to help us understand, but He doesn’t need to answer to or be held accountable to our accusations. He is God and we are not. We don’t often have the capability to understand, both because we have limited capacity, and also because we are only looking at our piece in the story, we often don’t see much beyond ourselves and those close to us.
I have lost so much, a daughter to SIDS, my dad to Cancer, friends because my pain was just too raw. I have questioned and accused God. I have yelled and ranted at Him. I have hated Him, I have hated what I saw as His inaction. I have blamed Him for my pain, for being far away and not interested. I was so wrong! I discovered within my pain and my questions, that I was not alone, that He wasn’t far away. It was exactly the opposite, I was enveloped in the love and the care and concern of God. I was locked up tight in my pain and self-centered indignation. I couldn’t see beyond myself, not because He wouldn’t let me see Him, but that I didn’t want to or even try to.
Eventually God in His persistant, patient, pervasive love, opened my soul up to experience a love that I had not experienced before. What I had imagined love to be was a farce, it was so empty afer I experienced God’s incredible love. I look back at my empty past life, the life I had before I knew God and shake my head at my stupidity. What was I thinking? Why did I think that what the world offered was good or enough? My limited understanding was so foolish. Why did I think I had the answers? I don’t know. It was like I was blind, or I had severly limited tunnel vision. This the enemy’s doing. God’s enemy wants us to look to ourselves for answers, to ignore God, to deny Him. This is how our enemy plans to destroy us, bringing eternal death. God offers eternal life. When we reach the end of our mortal life we will be able to understand what God sees, we will be able to comprehend what God is trying to say to us, we will be able to see beyond ourselves.
For now though, we need to put our trust in our Heavenly Father, we need to believe that He is incharge, and knows everything. We need to understand that God tries to help us understand but that we have a limited ability to understand, even the smartest/wisest person.When we lay everything in God’s hand, we enter a place of rest, security and incredible love.
In 2003 I was met at a woman’s retreat by my Heavenly Father. I was a mess, full of hatred for myself, washed in self-pity, and horrible self-talk. I hated who I was, I hated the way life had turned out, I was so jealous of others who seemed to have it all together. I had some good in my life, I had a husband who loved me, even if he didn’t show me that the way I needed to be shown. He really tried. I had 4 beautiful daughters. I had more than some had, a house, food, family… Unfortunately often I didn’t see the good. The self-hatred was so overwhelming. I tried to love and couldn’t properly. I didn’t know how. I didn’t love me, I certainly didn’t love God. I obeyed Him or in my limited capacity I tried. I felt hopeless and wrong. God met me in all my glorious mess. He shocked me with His love, He showed me just how lost I was, how locked up I was. He gave me the ability to see beyond my self-pity. He showed me just how loved I was, He showed me that because He thought I was worthy of love, I was loved. God gave a freedom that weekend like I had never experienced before, I had never known existed or needed before. God became my compass, guiding me out of my mess, He became my anchor in my storm of sorrow of a life lived wrong. My soul woke up. God showed me a new kind of life, a life of love.
During this weekend God gave me a new name, to remind me of His love. It is a name that tells me who God thinks and says that I am. My new name is Beautiful. I always named myself ugly, this was God’s enemy’s name for me. It was a lie. Beautiful was my real name, praise God! I try to remember my real name, sometimes I look back and start calling myself my old name, God then turns my face towards Him and I remember what He has called me, what He says about me.
I know that I am not alone in my quest for understanding who I am. I know that like me, other’s get stuck in the worldly names that they hear and adopt for themselves. I know others are as lost and stuck as I was and my heart breaks for them. I know my Father’s heart breaks for them, for He has given me insight into His heart for those who are broken, those whom He loves, for those who don’t know their real names. God wants all of humanity to hear, understand, and take His names for them. God wants them to live in this life of love, and in turn splash that love over those around them, He will fill you to overflowing, and He wants that overflow to reach others, to show them the love that He has. I don’t understand much when it comes to God, but I trust Him. He has shown me His love, and I want to tell other broken people my story so that they can know, understand and have hope, that God is good and that He loves them and wants to give them a name called in love and a life lived in that love.