It happened more than 40 years ago. I was at university, sitting on a bench on campus talking to God. I wanted more, wanted to understand God’s love. I prayed, “Lord, let me see people the way you do.” In a moment a friend, Evelyn, walked by. We didn’t exchange a word, but my heart began to break as I saw how much God loved her. I began to weep with the weight of God’s love for her. It was more than I could bear, more than I could imagine. It was too much and I prayed, “Lord, stop, I can’t take any more.”
I think of that moment often. It was a life changing moment for me to see others the way God sees them. His love for us is more than we can understand, more than we can bear, it’s wonderfully overwhelming. I could only see a small glimpse into his love and it broke me, it changed me. I think of that park bench and Evelyn often and remember the sense of God’s love for her and for others as they walked by.
But only recently did I get the full meaning of that moment more than 40 years ago (yes, I’m slow). During this time of sabbatical it suddenly struck me that God loves me the same way he loves Evelyn! I don’t know why I never put those pieces together, but I didn’t. I suddenly realized a message meant for me more than 40 years ago finally got through- God loves me!
Yes, yes…I know all about that from the bible. I know God loves me, but to really know it, to really understand how he feels about me, the emotion of it…even if it’s just a glimpse….has changed my walk with him. It’s a shame that it took 40 years for me to “get it”.
There’s no way to describe the depth of this love of the Father, this overwhelming love he has for us. There’s no words for it other than what we can see in the cross. The cross tells us all we can bear about the love of God. God loves us so much that he gave the eternal son to redeem us, to make us his children. This love isn’t just actions, but it’s rich with emotions. It’s a love with a depth we could never fully understand. It’s a love that is overwhelmingly wonderful.
God loves you, he loves me, he loves Evelyn more than you could possibly imagine. It’s this love that has made it possible for us to be his children. A love wonderfully beyond words. A love so grand that the cross is only a glimpse of how glorious it is. A love that would overwhelm you…..a love for you that is more than you could bear or even imagine.
It’s often hard for me to see God’s work in my life. I’m living moment by moment and I can’t see what he is doing in my moments. The light that shows me what God is doing sometimes comes much later. Most of the time I only get a glimpse, a stream of light through the clouds, a smile from heaven as it were. Finding my way is the challenge of life. How to navigate the road ahead when I only see a little bit in front of me.
I remember, years ago, while driving late at night in my 1937 Plymouth Road King that I accidentally hit the light switch and turned off the lights. What a panic! Going down the road in pitch blackness at 60 miles per hour. I quickly fumbled for the lights and the fear that overwhelmed me from the experience took hours to wane. It’s that feeling we often live with…the feeling of living in the dark. How to find the way? How to know what God is doing. It’s often a matter of trust when we see nothing at all.
Finding my way….I’m still working on it. But what I know is that God has promised to lead me, to help me, just as a guide would lead a blind man, holding my hand and leading me around the things I can’t even see. Paul wrote these words in Philippians, “My God will supply all your needs in Christ Jesus…” My greatest need is a guide to show me the way. I’m so glad he is that tender hand leading me along…even when I can’t see the way to go.
I’ve been thinking about the love of God lately and how He chooses to use me, a shy backwards little girl that grew up wanting a Christian family of her very own. Our finite minds could never grasp just how much God truly loves us, but if you think with me for a moment, maybe – just maybe you’ll get a glimpse of how great Gods Love for His children really is.
When trying to fathom how marvelous Gods love for me is, the only thing in this world I can compare it to is the love a Mother has for her child.
Unconditional Love – A Mother is filled with unconditional love for her child from the moment she confirms that she is pregnant. If she is hoping to be pregnant, that love is apparent before confirmation. At this point in our tiny life, in the womb of our Mother – she loves us, no matter what. God’s love for us as His children was deep in his heart before he even created the foundations of the world. John 17:24 says “for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” It’s an unconditional love.
Never Ending Love – A Mother’s love is never ending. It goes without saying that no matter how much we hurt our moms, how far we stray, how we disappoint them time and time again, she loves us – ALWAYS. We can ask for forgiveness a million times and the answer is always yes. We can make promise after promise and then choose to break them and still, she is there – waiting to forgive us every time. We can break her loving heart into a million pieces and still, the love she has for us will never end. Ps. 36:5 reminds us that His love & mercy are never ending. Jeremiah 31:3 says “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” Not only does He love us with an everlasting love, but he will always draw us to himself. We just need to be willing to go to Him when he draws us.
Desires the Best for us – Mothers, by instinct have a desire to make sure their children have the best they can give. The best clothes, toys, food, friends and the absolute best future. Which is why Moms devote countless hours of praying, working, molding, guiding and even shoving towards what we know will help their child succeed. Mothers want their children to make the best choices, even if it means enduring the heart break of sitting back and watching them fall off the swing set after we’ve told them a million times not to stand in it and swing. God’s love for us to have the best is so much greater than even this. In Matt 10:29-31, God reminds us that He takes care of the sparrows, that not one falls to the ground with out his knowing AND that even though he takes time to take care of such matters, that HE loves us more than even this. His ultimate desire for us is a Mansion in Heaven that HE is preparing for us. Not just another home, room or house – a Mansion! He gives us wisdom in Proverbs, to make decisions, he gives us courage in Psalms – reminding us that He is with us. His desire for us is to give us the very desire of our heart. Ps. 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” God truly desires the best for us!
Always Willing to Forgive – This almost goes along with never ending love, but I can’t stress it enough. Mothers will forgive their child time and time again. Knowing the pain we’ve caused, knowing the hurt we’ve caused, risking even more hurt by trusting. God forgives us more than that. Because of His amazing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins, He is willing to forgive us when we ask. Does this give us a license to go out and do wrong simply because we can beg forgiveness? No. If we truly love our Heavenly Father (just as we love our earthly Mother) we will want to keep the relationship right. We will want to keep moving closer to them, instead of doing wrong and moving farther away. If our relationship is right, we will not want our Mother or our Heavenly Father to have to forgive us of anything.
Willing to Sacrifice Individual Desires for Child – Mothers will do without a new Easter dress, dessert, new clothes, perfume, sleep, comfort, warmth, happiness and coolness for her child. She will endure pain, suffering, discomfort, fear, loneliness, sadness, horror and do things for her child she would never consider doing for anyone else. She will fight the fiercest, hairiest spider, wade through trash for the lost treasure, drive through raging storms to get last minute items needed to please their child. No sacrifice is too great. I John 4:14 reminds us that the Father sent the Son to be the savior of the world. God sacrificed HIS only son for us on the cross, just so that we could live as joint heirs in heaven with Him. God endured the agony of watching His only son be beaten for our sins, be tortured beyond recognition, being mocked and spit upon. God gave up the comforts of Heaven, the continual praise of the angels and the adoration of all the saints so that He could become man in the flesh, endure every trial, struggle and pain that we go through – all because he LOVES us so.
Willing to Sacrifice Her Very Life – A mother will protect her child at all costs. She would fight off an attacker, be mauled by a pit bull, step between the barrel of a gun and her child with NO hesitation. Risk her life without thought of her own being for her child. As Jesus was crucified on the cross for our sins, God knew what having our sins on His son would do for the perfect relationship they had always had. Yet, the sacrifice had to be made because He loves us. As our sins were placed upon him and the sky turned black – God, our Father had to turn his back on his ONLY son. He had to sacrifice that perfect relationship with His son – all because he LOVES us. The ultimate sacrifice. The gift of eternal life from the gift of His very son’s life.
When you gaze into your child’s face and think of just how much you love and adore him/her and your heart is bursting with amazing desires and great love, know that as God looks down from Heaven as our Father, His love for you is so much greater than the love you are feeling in your heart. As you ponder how much your very own Mother loves you, try to see just a small glimpse of the extraordinary love that God has for us. We can never fully comprehend His amazing love for us, but looking at the love and desire our mother has in her heart, we get to see a small piece of Gods Heart for us.
Try to image everyday, how much God loves you. Remind yourself that He is always there, no matter what the journey is. If you are on the mountain top, His love is wrapped around you, if you are struggling – making your way through the valley, His love is still wrapped around you. Always.
Guest Blog Post: Marie Wikle known as @spreadingJOY on twitter. Full of encouragement and the desire to make a difference everywhere she goes, Marie sneaks away to the beach every single chance she gets. Here is a glimpse of the ocean through her eyes.
My heart is pounding! You’d think I had not been to the ocean in years, but actually, it’s only been a few months. I quickly head to the sandy shores of the Atlantic. I’m giddy with delight! No matter how many times I come here, my heart feels as if it’s the first time I’ve seen it in years. I love the ocean. I love the smell, I love the sound, I love the sights! I simply love it.
The sand feels so cool on my feet. I must remove my shoes to get the full effects. I love walking thru the sand to the water. I reach the edge of the shore, the gentle waves lap up against me, saying “hello my dear friend! Do you know I love having you near me?” I sit in the sand, near the water but not so close as to get soaked.
I keep my feet at the edge, enjoying the cool water washing over my toes as I gaze out over the glorious ocean. I look straight ahead. As far as I can see is water. This mighty ocean is so peaceful, so calming as it rocks back and forth showing the world that God is in control of the waves. The gentle rocking is luring me into its massiveness by it mighty power. So gentle, yet so huge and powerful. It can lull the most troubled heart to sleep easily and, yet, wipe out entire cities by its force. I love the vastness of it. I look to the left and the waters are never ending…just like God’s love for me. I look to the right and the waters go on forever. I love that. I look ahead and imagine how deep the ocean must be. No one can touch the bottom of the ocean. I think how wonderful that is, because my sins are buried just that deep – as the deepest seas. And, better than that, God forgets them! He remembers them no more! Amazing!
I look straight ahead and admire the utter vastness of the ocean and think of how big and mighty God truly is and yet – he takes the time to love me – little ole nobody – me. God is bigger than this ocean, mightier than the wildest waves and wind and yet, for some reason, He draws me to Him. He calls me and HE wants me to spend time with Him. He can have anyone on the face of the earth, and he wants me. I look at the sand and the wonderful treasures that are buried there. I see the normal ole seashells, plain, like me. Millions of them are there. Usually, I never pick them up unless they are shiny and beautiful. I smile and wonder why God picks me up. I’m not shiney and mercy, no where near beautiful. Oh, I adore the cool seashells! I love when they are in whole pieces, but I rarely find them – and yet – I laugh to myself – when mom comes to the ocean, she comes back with oodles of cool shells that she found as gifts from the ocean. I smile and think to myself, she deserves those treasures from the ocean, she is truly a wonderful woman who deserves more than I can ever give her.
I sit beside the ocean for hours, soaking up every sound, every quiet clap of the waves, every gentle swoosh of the the water retreating back into its bed. I love the deep and complete peace I feel as I sit there, beside the majestic ocean. Knowing that as God controls the ocean, he truly controls everything in my life.
I look straight ahead, a beautiful orange glow is emerging off of the horizon! I didn’t realize that God was giving me yet another gift! Another desire of my very own heart! The desire to see the full moon rise up out of the ocean, to light my night, to light my path, to lead the way for me. It creeps up, inch by inch, pouring more and more of its light right down upon me. I smile and think “thank you Lord for the full moon” I have always loved how I feel closer to the Lord when it is shining down. The full moon over the mighty ocean – the greatest gift ever.
I love the glory of it all! So majestic! The huge moon, watching my every step, lighting my way. The ocean that is gentle, peaceful, yet strong enough to violently shatter the earth with its great waves. I sit and dwell on His goodness. I soak up His greatness, His wonder, HIS love for me – thank you Father, that I can always visit the ocean in my minds eye. Your grace is enough, and it truly does amaze me. Your grace and love is sufficient and never ending – just like the ocean.
What do you see when you look at the Ocean? Can you imagine how deep God’s love for you is? Can you look out over the ocean and realize the power it takes to hold the water in place?
My Prayer for you when YOU look at the ocean!
When you see the perfect cute litte treasures of the “neat” shells, may you remember that YOU are that special and that out of all the millions of “shells” that you stand out and God is waiting to pick you up and place you with his prized shells so that you may bless the heart of others everytime someone looks at you.
When you feel the gentle waves lapping at your feet – may you be reminded of how tenderly God holds us in his hands – and how he comforts our hearts when we are troubled.
When you see the waves clapping – know that HE is coming for us one day.
When you see the waves crashing on the shore – remember that this is a tiny portion of how much power God holds and ALL THINGS ARE possible by him – for his children that HE adores.
When you see the never endingness of the ocean, may you be reminded of how HE loves us – truly deep down loves us. and that love is never ending.
When you gaze at the ocean and wonder how deep it is, may you be reminded that it is sooo deep that our deepest sins are buried there and even God himself can not get to them, nor can he remember them.
May you feel the love of the LORD sweep over you and on to your life as you gaze at the majestic ocean, that is nothing short of awesome!
Last Thought: Do you know that with all of the millions of “shells” that surround you, that God chooses YOU too! He draws you. He wants you to dwell with him. Are you spending time with Him. Are you being still beside the ocean and enjoying the view? *patting the sand* come…sit right here, next to me and let’s enjoy how awesome God is – together!
In All That You Say…In All That You Do…Represent Christ!