Do you have family that lives far away? Or maybe a really close friend? I do. Both of my sets of grandparents live in Colorado, and so do most of my cousins. That’s 1,300 miles away from where I live! Of all the very best friends I’ve had over the years (about 5), 3 of them moved away. And two of them moved all the way across the country from me!
When people live far away, it can be easy to forget what they’re like. Now, I know it’s impossible to actually forget about grandparents and friends and loved ones, even if they’re far away—they’ll always be in you thoughts. But it can be easy for the details to slip into the back of your mind. It can be easy to forget their mannerisms, phrases, and opinions.
Over the past couple months, I’ve realized that this is probably the biggest problem in my spiritual life. Because this doesn’t just happen with people—it happens with God.
If I really knew God, I wouldn’t sin. If I really knew God, I wouldn’t worry. If I really knew God, I would love others. If I really knew God, I would always overflow with joy and peace.
I forget who God is.
This happens most of all when I’m not reading my Bible faithfully. (Which, incidentally, is really, really hard for me.) But it can also happen when I get distracted by my own doubts and fears and start to believe Satan’s lies. I just end up forgetting who God is.
The funny thing is, I don’t usually forget about His justice or His holiness or His goodness. Those are all wonderful attributes of His, but I’m usually not tempted to forget those. There’s one big one that I’m tempted to forget.
His love. Specifically, what His love is like.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking around feeling discouraged and condemned and horrible, and then I read my Bible and saw God in His love. And I realized that even if I’ve been believing in my head that God is love, I always find Him to be much, much more loving than I think. In other words, His love is bigger than I remembered it. Everywhere you look in the Bible, you can see a loving, loving, loving God, lavishing His big, big love on His people no matter what they do.
Read any story in the Bible. Read Genesis, for example. It’s pretty much one big book of men and women messing up and God loving them anyway. Think about it. Adam. Eve. Abraham. Sarah. Isaac. Rebekah. Jacob. Leah. Rachel. Judah. Tamar. Joseph’s brothers. And the list goes on. Story after story, and what remains constant? God’s big love.
God’s love isn’t just this shallow, “oh-yeah-he-loves-me” kind of love. Not only is it way, way bigger than we realize. It’s also way, way more extravagant than we realize.
Here’s a hint as to just how much God loves us.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.”
1 Peter 1:18-19 (emphasis added)
Maybe one reason we can’t understand God’s love for us is because we can’t understand God’s love for His Son. We can’t comprehend how much it means that Jesus is God’s “beloved Son” and that God is “well-pleased” with Him (Mark 1:11). We don’t get what it means when John 3:35 says, “For the Father loves the Son and has placed everything into His hands.” Or when it says something similar in John 5:20, about the Father loving the Son. We forget about God and Jesus (and let’s not forget about the Holy Spirit) in prefect communion with each other for eternity, before the world was created. It doesn’t sink in for us that two of the big pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament, Isaac and Joseph, were both beloved, long-awaited, absolutely adored sons of their fathers.
Maybe salvation will mean a bit more to us when we realize that it is that Son, that beloved, favored Son who brings Him so much joy and is the very radiance of His glory—that is the Son He sent to die for us.
Wow. That’s a wake-up call, isn’t it?
Not only is the Bible full of stories of God’s love, but it is the substance of the Gospel. And not just because of God’s love for Jesus, but also because of His love for us.
After God saves us, He doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. That’s because He’s smart—He knows that we can’t fend for ourselves. He knows that we are totally helpless to do anything without Him.
Which is why God is the One who does the foreknowing, the predestining, the choosing, the calling, the sanctifying, the keeping, the justifying, and, finally, the glorifying (Romans 8:29-30). Our faithful God shows us His love by being just that—faithful. He shows us His love by carrying us into the Christian race… and then carrying us out, too. (And then, when He glorifies us, guess who really gets all the glory?)
When I reflect on how utterly loving God is, how kind and merciful and compassionate and forgiving, I am amazed that I ever forgot. Kind of like I wonder how I could ever forget about my grandma’s mannerisms—when I’m near her, I just realize anew how much I love her! And it’s the same way (just a little more magnified) with God. Which is why the biggest, bestest (that’s intentional, I know that’s bad grammar) way to remember how loving God is would be to stay close to Him. How do you do that? Read your Bible. And don’t just “read it”… really dig deep. Pray while you read. Talk to God. And look for Him to be loving, in the words of those pages and in every day of your life. You won’t have to look far, I promise.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD” (Romans 8:38-39).
And now I want to take a second and remind you of one last thing about God’s love, something that you can hold onto on those days that you’re just not feeling it—Gods’ love isn’t going anywhere. It is not only super big, super extravagant, and super sustaining. It’s also super, super faithful. Which is why we can say this:
For I am convinced that neither schoolwork nor stress, neither a job nor the lack of a job, neither the unknown future nor the shameful past, nor any worries, neither bullies nor insecurities, neither difficult people nor hurtful situations, neither headaches nor cancer, neither loneliness nor exhaustion, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD.
Do any of those resonate with you? I invite you to place whatever trial you’re going through into one of the slots in that verse. And then proclaim with confidence that whatever that nothing ever, ever be able to separate you from this love which is bigger, more extravagant, more sustaining, and more faithful than you could have ever dreamed.
Have a wonderful week and be sure to join me next Tuesday for another post!