Thursday, November 18, 2010

He loves me, He loves me not

If you would have asked me in the past if I could earn God's love and approval, I would have told you no. I would have quoted you Romans 5:8 and Titus 3:5 and declared that God's love is a free gift. But it wasn't until a few years ago that I really began to believe that on an emotional level.

I think the way I grew up affected my ability to understand the things of God. In a lot of ways I was blessed growing up because my family believed in God and I went to church. I was also blessed because my father did love me and try to be a good father. He was just limited by his own life experiences and did not know how to express that love. I can not remember a time that he ever told me that he loved me, or a time when he ever complimented me about anything. So I always felt lacking growing up. I always wanted to somehow earn my father's love and approval; I was always striving to obtain something that I never perceived myself receiving.

On some level, all of these things transferred onto God. I spent years and years when, although I was not conscious of it, I was trying to earn God's love and approval. But over time the Holy Spirit used the Bible, people He brought into my life, and books by godly men and women to make the truth of God's unconditional love and approval real for me.

Today I can rest in the fact that of course I do not deserve God's love one bit, yet He gives it to me any way. I can extend grace to other people when they mess up, because I'm ever conscious of the grace that's been extended to me.

Sometimes I think people worry that if they stress God's love too much, that Christians will just engage in lazy, sloppy, living. A friend of mine, after I'd loaned her the book The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennen Manning (one of those books that God totally used to help me see His love for me in a new way), asked me - but what about obedience? I tried to explain to her that as we grow in our grasp of His immense love for us, obedience comes. We won't have to force ourselves to "do" the "right things", because we grow in our desire to want to do whatever this wonderful, loving, God asks.

What about you, do you find it easy to accept God's love? Have you ever struggled with feeling like you had to earn God's love?


~*Michelle*~ said...

"We won't have to force ourselves to "do" the "right things", because we grow in our desire to want to do whatever this wonderful, loving, God asks."

LOVE this!

Great thought provoking post...thank you!

David said...

Great message, Tracy!

I was asked to do my father's eulogy. Before I wrote it, I had a dream about my dad who sounds a bit like yours. In it the Lord reminded me of a time that I broke the neighbor's window with a baseball. I remembered asking my mom to take a bath early, for I was sure that when he got home I was going to "get it". I guess he got in, and my mom finally told him, I was already in bed dreading my plight. But nothing happened; not that night, not that day, not ever in regards to the window.

Maybe 10 years later, my mom told me that he went over to the neighbor’s house and gave him the money for the window.

That's what God's like when you ask him to be your Abba Father.

RCUBEs said...

I think I struggled before. That was because I knew I didn't want the change that would come as I desire to know God more.

But in reality, the change that comes from Him is the best that could ever happen in someone's life. And everything starts by letting Him fill our hearts with His love. Is it easy? No! But if we choose to surrender our lives completely, I think that's the first step to making it an easier way to receive and know His love and grace.

Michelle said...

I'm not sure if I've ever felt like I need to earn God's least consciously. I think the point I struggle with is knowing the changes that should be taking place, and not finding security that He is working those things out in me. In other words, I have moments when I see my sin and I doubt my true conversion. I see that in believers, the Holy Spirit works those things out through sanctification and I guess I worry whether or not I'm being sanctified.

I'm with Michelle though and really like the quote. Very touching post.

Deborah Ann said...

Sounds like you and I are on the same path. God's been showing me of late that even if I didn't do one single thing, he would love me. Rick Joyner had an experience where either by a dream or vision he saw heaven, and he explains how the man sitting closest to Jesus never did one single thing to earn that chair. It floored me!

~Jan~ said...

Tracy, your story sounds much like mine. Never assured of my earthly father's love for me, I did what I could, as a little girl, in hopes of pleasing him. Sometimes it worked other times it didn't. Like you, I transferred my opinion of God based on my earthly father's relationship with and approval of me.

For years, I lived in doubt of my salvation. I lived an emotional and spiritual roller coaster. My head knew what the Word of God claimed concerning salvation but my heart couldn't grasp that it was for me. Those years were tormenting.

I know it may sound ironic, but through many trials that called me to believe and trust in Him in spite of prayers not being answered, I learned that His unearned favor would never change towards me. Now both my heart and head know without any doubt that the Lord is here with me at every moment and His love endures forever.

Also, I really liked the way you termed us as not being deserving of God's love and appreciate that you did not claim us as unworthy of His love. God would have never come down off of His Kingly throne, manifest Himself in human form and die in our place if He did not deem us worthy. Oh, in His eyes, we are truly valued

Thanks for your honesty, I am sure there are others that will read this and through the Holy Spirit, will learn to grasp the most important aspect of God and His love.

Be blessed,