The love of God…everyone talks about it, but few really live in it. A wise counselor once told me, “You speak out of what you know in your head but you live out of what you believe in your heart.” If you have grown up in the church, then you have heard of God’s love over and over and over. I did. But as I grew older I found that while I knew about God’s love, I didn’t really know it for myself. I didn’t really believe that He loved me personally and unconditionally.
Spiritual depression crept into my life as I found it difficult to read my Bible because all I seemed to see was God’s righteousness, holiness, and judgement and how I fell short. Spiritually, it began to paralyze me, until one day I was confronted with the realization that I had an option. Either I could continue on in my misery and uncertainty, or I could search the Word and pray for a true heart knowledge of God’s love. And since living my life in a state of continual depression didn’t seem too peachy to me, I chose the latter. 😉
I knew that just looking up a few verses wouldn’t do it. I knew I needed something more. God gave me the idea to get a new, unmarked Bible in an easy-to-read translation, and read through the entire Bible looking only for God’s love, tenderness, mercy, and forgiveness. These were the traits I seemed to not grasp as easily. Everyday I committed to reading until God spoke to me about His love. It could be one verse or several chapters. The goal wasn’t to get through the Bible quickly, but to meet God there and learn about His love for me.
This was a two year journey and it was a journey that changed my life forever. I went from not being able to open my Bible at all because I felt so condemned, to spending hours a day basking in God’s Word. Why? Well, I realized that no one wants to go sit in front of a judge every day and only be confronted with their sin and lack of holiness. And that is how I used to feel. But friends, this wasn’t reality. I had a false view of God. I knew well certain attributes of God but we cannot separate God’s holiness from His love, or His righteousness from His goodness, because God is all these things at all times.
I literally came to see the love of God on every page of Scripture. And by the end of that two years, my entire view of God was drastically transformed. I cannot say what it was other than the washing of the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. I had to soak in it. It needed time to penetrate through all the misconceptions I had about God. This truly changed my life. I then knew that when I sat down with my Bible to meet with God, I was sitting at the feet of my Father who truly loved me without conditions.
Maybe you too wonder about God’s love for you. Maybe you have heard about God’s love but haven’t really lived in it. Maybe you need a long soak in God’s Word meditating on His love. I would encourage you to embark on such a journey today. Don’t go another day living in misery with a false view of who God is.
On the other hand, maybe you are prone to think of God as merely loving, merciful, and forgiving (and He is), but maybe you aren’t all that convicted of your sin because you also have a false view of God. For He is also holy, righteous, and just, and because of this, sin is a big deal. And the truth is we have to have a real awareness of the attributes of God and who He is, before we have a real awareness of our sin and how bad it is. For the reason sin is so bad is because God is so good. Once you see God for Who He is, you see your sin for what it is, and appreciate more what Christ has done for you.
I’ve just been so grateful this week for the fact that I know God’s love in such a way that I am not afraid to go to Him. I know He loves me not based on my actions but on Who He is. And that means the world to me. It’s what brings me back to Him every time I fail. Every time I choose my way instead of His, He is faithful to always come after His wandering sheep and bring me back to Him. For He truly loves me like no other.
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.