Something inside of each of us longs to be loved with an everlasting, unfailing, unconditional kind of love; a love that is unselfish while at the same time passionate and pursuing. The desire runs so deep that we search endlessly until we find it, or until a suitable substitute crosses our path. Even as a young child I remember yearning for love. I would sit on the grass and play a little game called “He loves me, he loves me not” in which I was trying to determine if the current object of my affection loved me back. I would pick the petals off of a flower, and with each petal that I would remove, I would alternate between the words he loves me and he loves me not, hoping desperately to find out that he indeed loved me back. However, I had a way of manipulating the game to get the results that I wanted. For example, I would pick a flower with the correct number of petals to end on the phrase he loves me. Or if I could see that it wasn’t going to turn out the way that I wanted it to, I would pitch the flower before getting to the end and I would start all over. I couldn’t bear the thought of unrequited love. The grownup truth is that love cannot be manipulated, but try telling that to a young heart that’s yearning for love.
I suspect that many, if not most, of us who enter into marriage do so in hopes that our spouse will fill our deep desire for love. Recently I had the special joy of offering words of encouragement, challenge and blessing to a beautiful young woman who is about to enter into marriage with the love of her life. Her eyes sparkled when she looked at pictures of her soon-to-be husband. Her words dripped of sweet anticipation as she spoke of their upcoming marriage and the things that she most looks forward to. What a beautiful picture it is when God unites two hearts and lives into one. To witness such innocent love renews within most of us our own hopes and desires to love and be loved with the all consuming passion and splendor of young love… so sweet and so full of hope for the future. Yet, as beautiful as their young love is, I was prompted to remind her there is a love that is far more beautiful and essential than the love of her soon-to-be husband.
As I offered this young woman words of encouragement I in no way wanted to diminish the beautiful gift of love and companionship that God has given her in this young man. However, as much as she loves him and he loves her, this young man was not designed to be God in her life. In many ways he will be able to mirror the kind of love that God offers her, and hopefully as he matures into his husbandly role his love for her will grow deeper with each passing year. However, because he is not God, no matter how wonderful he is, he has the pull of sin on his life. And as such, he has the capacity to disappoint her and let her down. Each and every one of us has that same pull of sin in our life, meaning that we too have the capacity to disappoint and hurt the people that we love.
You may or may not consider yourself lovable. You may live with an unspoken fear that people will not love you if let your guard down and they get to know the real you. Or perhaps you feel like people love you only when you do things their way and you don’t cause waves. When we deal with these negative kinds of doubts and fears, the feelings often extend into the way that we view God’s love for us. Unfortunately this is a pretty common feeling of people living in our world today. If this doesn’t describe you, look around you and you won’t have to look far before you will see someone who’s trying to portray a more lovable image. People try to be someone that they are not so that they will gain the acceptance and love that they desire. In part, the problem comes because most of us are aware of our own shortcomings. We have all said and done things that we aren’t proud of, or we see ourselves as being less than we should be. Add to this the fact that we live in a desperately broken world where people hurt people, who then turn around and hurt other people. Yes, there are beautiful moments and beautiful people and times of intense joy, but there are also those difficult people and painful trials that tend to rob us of ability to feel good about ourselves. And our own propensity to sin can lead us to believe that we have gone so far that there is no way possible for God to forgive us, yet alone love us. The sum total can add up to us feeling like we are utterly unworthy of God’s love.
But God does not view you and me from the same perspective. Through the eyes of His Son Jesus, God walked in our shoes and He understands how wounded and hopeless this world can make us feel. God views us through eyes of great mercy, love and compassion. His love for us is a pure and perfect, unconditional kind of love. Stop for a moment and consider the following truth about God’s love:
There is absolutely nothing that you can ever do to make God love you any more than He does at this very moment; and there is absolutely nothing that you can do to make Him love you less!
God loves you. You are His beloved. You have been uniquely and perfectly created by the One who looks at you with love. You are the beloved apple of His eye.
No matter how carefully I choose my words and arrange them on the page, I know full well this is something that I cannot convince you of if you do not already believe it to be true.No one could have convinced me before God made this truth real in my life. It’s really hard to be convinced of God’s love when you feel unlovable. But here’s the good news, God’s ability to love you isn’t about your worthiness or lack thereof. God’s Word says that He demonstrated His love for us by sending His son Jesus to die for us while we were still living a life of full blown sin (Romans 5:8). None of us are worthy of God’s love, there is no way that we could ever clean ourselves up enough to make ourselves worthy. Without going into great explanation, Jesus, the worthy One, took on our sin when He went to the cross. By the sacrifice of His life, Jesus made it possible for us to come into the presence of our Father God and know Him on a very personal level. Even so, a bottom line truth is that God loves us so much that He chose to reach out to us before we ever chose to glance in His direction. God knew full well that many would spit in the face of His love, choosing instead to settle for something far less, but He still chose to lavish His love upon us.
Love is what God is all about. In fact, the Bible says that “God is love (1 John 4:16)”… God himself is the love that our hearts long for:
- His love is enduring – there is nothing that you, or anyone else, can ever do to cause Him to stop loving you. He will never give up on you.
- His love is unfailing – God’s love always has your best interest at heart. Even when it seems like everyone and everything in this life has let you down, you can trust that God will always choose to do what is best for you.
- His love reaches to the heavens. Wherever you go, whatever way you turn, God’s love will go there before you. God has been in pursuit of you and your love from the beginning of time.
- His love for you is passionate; The Bible (His Word) tells the greatest love story ever told. His love for you is lavish, rich and abounding.
The truth of God’s love for me has transformed my life and how I view myself. The knowledge of God’s love has renewed my purpose for living. When I started to seek a real relationship with God, I came face to face with the fact that not only did God know every single bad thing that I had ever thought and done, He knew every single future bad thing that I would ever think and do, and yet He still loved me, He chose to call me His child. His love was there for me even if I would have chosen to reject it. Case in point: I have referred in other writings to the rich young man who came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Immediately after asking this question Scripture says that “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Jesus knew full well that the young man would choose his earthly wealth over the treasures offered by God, but Jesus loved him nonetheless (Mark 10:17-28).
As I spoke about love to the young bride-to-be, I encouraged her to let the truth of God’s love sink deep into the fabric of her being; to allow God’s love for her to be the deep well from which she draws her identity. When our identity is deeply rooted in God’s love, we are fully equipped to face the joys and the sorrows of this life.
The message is the same for you today. You are God’s beloved! Do you believe this deep in the fabric of your being? If not, what lies have your believed about God’s love for you? What lies have you told yourself about your lovability? Ask God to help you see the truth about what you really believe and ask Him to show you His love in ways that you will understand. God’s love for you is a done deal, He loves you and there is nothing that you can do to make Him change His mind. God’s love will transform your sense of identity and purpose when it becomes a part of the fabric of who you are. Oh how I wish you could see yourself through God’s eyes. As I wrap this up I am prompted to pray the same prayer for you that Paul prayed for the people at Ephesus, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3:17-19).” Amen.
He loves you, He loves you not, He loves you!