Last week, I stood in my kitchen, doing dishes while listening to a John Piper message on Romans 5. His opening prayer prompted a volcano of tears and the mountain kept gushing over the next 38 minutes. Despite all my training and rational understanding, my heart doesn’t always incline itself toward the love of God. C.S. Lewis said that “though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” I testify to this truth, and yet, sometimes I long to feel it more than I do.
Erroneously, I act like His love is steady, but feel like His acceptance wanes when I falter. Want His praise and attention? Do something amazing. And when I fail, as I often do, I feel like I’ve disappointed and frustrated Him. Like He’s shaking His head, asking me, “When are you going to get it together already?”
Obviously, you can see the deception in these heart beliefs. But getting our hearts to acknowledge what our heads have long held fast testifies to the true level of our faith. Do I trust what He says of me? What He says of Himself? Do I trust that it’s true all the time? As John Piper reminds us, the Holy Spirit is the one who overflows our hearts with the “experience” of God’s love, not just the theological awareness.
“God loves me, and […] there’s nothing I can do in this new day to earn more love–nothing. And also there’s nothing I can do in this new day to ruin or break that love–nothing. I can’t imagine anything more life-changing for an earner like me. That love is secure no matter what, no matter what, no matter what. No matter what I do or don’t do, no matter whether I succeed or fail, no matter if I perform well or fall apart.
When I begin the day drenched in that love–that centering awareness of my worth and connection to God–the day is different. I don’t have to scramble or hustle. Fear dissipates, and what I’m left with is warmth, creativity, generosity. I can make and connect and create and tell the truth, because my worth isn’t on the line every time, at every moment. Unconditional love changes everything” (Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect).
True love–the unwavering, unaltered, God-originated, perfectly pure love–doesn’t demand but invites. He invites us to release the idols we think will love us in return (acceptance by others, achievement, accolades, advancement, affluence, and amenities). He invites us to lay down the exacting expectations of everyone else who claims to love us well…if….we….don’t disappoint. But, we will. And they will disappoint us as well. He invites us to become whole in His love.
For only one love doesn’t waver: the love of our Creator and Savior. He reassures the believer in Romans 8 that nothing separates us from His love. Nothing. Psalm 94:18: ” When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.” For “Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens.” (Ps. 36:5).
“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
May this be your prayer and mine: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5).