As I prayed this week about what to share, the one thing that kept coming was, “Tell them I love them”. I am embarrassed to say that my first response was almost to write it off. I mean, we all know that already, right? It is the first thing that we learn as believers—Jesus loves me. But the more I listened, the more I realized how easy it is for us to lose that message. Somehow, it gets watered down in our minds to mean “Jesus tolerates me”. Am I the only one guilty of this?
I look at the deep love I have for my husband and children, and the delight I have in them, yet it is so easy to doubt that God delights in me. I don’t doubt that He has forgiven me, but for some reason, a part of me expects Him to look at me with…I don’t know…disappointment? Resignation? As though loving me is merely an obligation on His part.
The good news is, the Bible paints a very different picture of His love for us. It is passionate, joyful, aching for intimacy with us!
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17. Imagine that—the King of the Universe is so delighted with you that He sings about it! One version says that He shouts for joy!
He wants us. He wants to be close to us. And I think that most of us long to be closer to Him. What impedes us? Sin, of course, but I think that often it is not the sin itself, but the shame. We give ourselves to Him and receive freedom and forgiveness, but we don’t always give our shame to Him. We hold onto it, replay things in our minds, and try to “punish” ourselves with reminders of how we have fallen short. And I think that breaks His heart.
He knows everything, right? So, He knew everything about us, all the mistakes we would make, all the faults, and He still decided that WE WERE WORTH LOVING. He isn’t disappointed in us, because to be disappointed, you have to expect something else.
Obviously, He wants us to be free from sin. Romans 6 makes it clear that we are no longer to be in bondage to sin. But it is interesting to me that after that is dealt with, Romans 8 goes on to remind us that there is no longer any condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
Ironically, sometimes our very efforts to become closer to God are the source of our shame. Growing up, I would make all these promises to spend x amount of time praying, reading my Bible etc. The days that I didn’t reach my goal I felt so guilty. I still believe that those disciplines are important, but they aren’t my goal—the goal is spending time with Him. I’ve discovered the joy and intimacy of doing nothing with God. Just as some of my favorite moments with Carlos aren’t always about having deep discussions, but just snuggling close on the couch while I read and he watches TV or whatever. There is an underlying awareness of the other’s presence that makes us both smile inside.
God loves us. He really, deeply passionately loves us. He enjoys us. And He longs for us to let go of our shame, and step forward as His bride, radiant and beautiful in His eyes. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jer. 31:3. I hope that this week you will be filled with the sense of His presence throughout your day, that you will let go of any shame, and revel in His song over you.