This post is titled after a quote I read in a book. In it, the author recounted a conversation with a friend where for several minutes he was telling this friend about the busyness of his life, all he had on his to-do list and challenges he faced. The friend sat quietly through his monologue and at the end simply asked him: “do you ever just let God love you?”. I have pondered that question over quite a few times. I wish my answer could be a straightforward “Yes” but I know it isn’t. It is the most important fact in my life that the Creator of the whole universe loves me intensely as though I am the only human being He ever created. Yet I often forget or doubt it and sadly, that fact doesn’t often bare out in my everyday life.
As I have often said, my children have taught me a lot about how I ought to relate to God. They just let me love them. The alternative never seems to occur to them. I don’t have to convince them that I love them, they expect and accept it. I always find it remarkable that moments after I have told my son off for doing something naughty, he is ready to play with me like it never happened. I think Jesus may have had this quality in mind when He called us to be like little children [Matthew 18:1-5]. To my son, there is nothing he could do that would make me stop loving him. He is secure in my love and quite frankly, the day my children feel they have to earn my love, I have failed as a father.
I once heard a preacher recount an encounter with one of his parishioners. He saw a lady sobbing at the front of the church after an evening service when everyone had left. When he asked her why she was sobbing, she told him that she had done some terrible thing in her past and if her family knew, they would disown her. She said, “…for the last 30 years, I have been asking God to forgive me and He won’t.” His response was: “God has no idea what you are talking about. When you asked Him to forgive you the first time He did and then He forgot what you did. So, for 30 years, He doesn’t know what you have been asking Him to forgive!” He goes on to say that she danced for joy around the church when she realised this. That is the lovely response to the promises uttered by Isaiah [43:25] and Jeremiah [31:34]. It is unimaginable to us because we struggle to forget, but God uses His absolute power to not only forgive but also forget our sins.
When Jesus said “It is finished” on the cross [John 19:30], He had done everything to guarantee that nothing could ever separate us from the love of God [Romans 8:35-39]. Interestingly, Paul in that chapter in Romans goes on to list some of the things that may cause us to doubt or forget God’s love for us. His list included suffering, affliction, trials, calamity, hunger, persecution, famine, danger and sword. A pretty frightful list and Paul himself experienced some of those things [2 Corinthians 11:23-27]. I try to remind myself that God’s sovereignty and love for me mean that all my experiences in life essentially happen in a controlled environment. That is to say that none of it comes as a surprise to God, none of it is hopeless for God and none of it will ever get the better of me if I put my trust in God. With God, I am guaranteed to come out on top regardless of my circumstance [Romans 8:28, 37].
John tells us that God loved us so much and couldn’t bear the dysfunction inflicted on the world by our sins, so He sent Jesus [John 3:14-18]. If we ever fully understood God’s love for us, not just intellectually but in our hearts and minds, then shame and guilt would have no hold on us. The innumerable things that weigh so heavily on us would seem so inconsequential, and rightly so. In truth, the only response to such love would be to love God in return. You would love Him with your whole heart, mind, strength and soul. You would do so not under duress but because you are so dearly loved. You would love His creation, starting with your neighbour. You would see your neighbour as someone created in the image and likeness of God, loved and valued by God. You would also treat all of God’s creation with love and care. Would you want to live in such a world?
My son doesn’t lose sleep over my love for him. As a result of his security in that love, he lives his life knowing no matter what happens, mummy and daddy will take care of him. Jesus tells us that if we who are evil know how to take care of our children, how much more will our heavenly Father take care of us [Luke 11:13]. It takes childlike faith to fully trust in God’s love and live in the security of that love. Jonathan Edwards, a theologian who lived three centuries ago, famously made 70 resolutions to live by. Number 25 states: “Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.” That is a resolution we should all make.