AWED BY LOVE
Today I’m struck with awe by the relentless love of God for us. I commented in the last post that I’ve been going through some tough stuff recently. But today as I look back through the weeks of this recent season, I see God’s relentless pursuit of this wandering sheep and I’m flooded with joy over His relentlessness to gather me back to Himself. I’m flooded with awe over His commitment to my growth to the next level in Him. To my staying the path He’s gloriously blazing. To my not being defeated by the enemy. To my being held, protected, and empowered from the place of His loving soul. I found myself asking Him yesterday, “Who am I that you would love me this much?” I mean really, who are we?
I want you to know today, that God doesn’t only love me this much. He loves EACH of us this much. All of us. Every single one of us!! His love for us is relentless.
He’s relentlessly pursuing us. Relentlessly fighting for us. Relentlessly longing to pull us closer to Himself, encircled in His love, smitten and joy-exploding in His presence.
But maybe you’re not so sure He’s this active in your life. Or at least this actively pursuing you. Or at least right now.
In case you seem to be in a rut or facing difficulty at every turn, and the presence of God seems to be not present and certainly not active in your life, in case life feels more clouded by darkness than filled with light right now, consider these few clues (among others I am sure!) that God has indeed gone nowhere in your life, but is, in fact, pursuing you to bring you up and in and closer to Him than you’ve ever been!
ClUE #1.THE PRESENCE OF CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE
If you’re in a rut or facing difficulty right now, than this season is likely different than the season before, which probably felt easier and more comfortable. Whether the last season you were in was full of the obvious presence of God or not, the changes you’re in the middle of now may seem to have you in a holding pattern of doubt, questioning, fear, frustration, sadness, and even gloom… But really, you can be sure God is at work to draw you to Himself. To bring you higher in your trust and love for Him, He will bring you through seasons in which you cannot depend on yourself. These seasons are designed to bring us to new heights of interdependence on Him. It is in these times we learn a new level of His trust. You may have been pretty good at depending on Him in certain areas of your life, but there is more. Not all areas of your heart and life are dependent on Him yet. And the more areas that are, the more you’ll live in love with Him, the more you’ll witness His outlandish love for you, the more His life will overtake your flesh, and the more you’ll shine with His glory in the world. Let change have its work in you. Determine to take your eyes off of the change itself, and place them onto Jesus in ways you never have before. Like Peter when he stepped out of the boat, his eyes on Jesus, you will surely find Him trustworthy. See this season of change and the difficult or unknown as a clue that God is relentlessly pursuing you in and for love.
CLUE #2. THE PRESENCE OF WARNING IN YOUR LIFE
Have you ever felt like you are walking a tightrope, and one foul step and you’ll go plummeting to the earth below? Maybe you’ve simply had an internal sense—felt an internal warning—lately that you should be careful. Maybe you’ve been warned more tangibly: through another person, through something you’ve read, through something almost turning disastrous right in front of you, through another way God has worked… If so, consider yourself loved and intimately tended to, and the warning a blessing. It’s like if my son is riding his bike down the street, but turns his face to look at a dog that’s running by. I might see this, see him about to ride right into a parked car, and yell so he looks before he crashes. This warning would be from love, and for the safety and best of my son. And it would only come if I was paying close attention to him. If you’ve had a sense of red flagging in your heart, count it love and God’s close attention to you! God, who knows all things, wants you to know that with the wrong focus, things could get really bad. But with eyes refocused on Him, disaster can be averted! So dear friend, do not fear because of a warning. Count it love, which has not left you for a moment. Look up. Look to Jesus. And let the Shepherd’s staff snatch you away from the cliff’s edge and bring you back to walking in the Spirit, safe and comforted in Him. See His warning in your life as His unstoppable love for you!
CLUE #3. AN AWARENESS OF HIS UNCONDITIONAL FORGIVENESS
If you’re in a “down and out” season, chances are you’ve made some mistakes in this season. You’ve spoken and acted and doubted from your place of pain and confusion. When it seems all have walked away (even if they haven’t), perhaps you have understanding that at least you have God. And at least He’ll always forgive you and accept you. That He’ll take you when no one else will, when everyone else’s love and forgiveness is conditional. This awareness of His unconditional forgiveness is a clue that He’s relentlessly pursuing you. That He’s never stopped loving you. In fact, nothing could ever cause Him to. And He’s right there, just awaiting your turn to Him, arms open wide, ready to receive you. Indeed, His love for you is relentless.
These are just a few clues to God’s relentless, unceasing pursuit of YOU and love FOR you. I am confident that if we take some time to think things through, we could each come up with more evidence than this. But this is a starting point anyways.
Now that we’ve considered some experiential clues that God is actively in hot pursuit of us, let’s look to some concrete, objective evidence that tells us surely this is true. In other words, let’s see what the Scriptures say.
Take some time to read Psalm 139:1-18 (below), for understanding that God never leaves us, that He’s ever attentive to us. He never ceases to stay right with us. The fact that He’s there at every moment sings with the relentless love of God for us.
“O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.”
Now read Romans 8:35-39, for understanding that God never ever stops loving us. We need to know that trial, temptation, failure, sin, fear, loss, sorrow, distress, persecution, or attack do NOT mean God has stopped loving us or being close to us! In fact, quite the opposite is true. As we’ve discussed, even the presence of difficulty is designed from and for love. It is meant to draw us deeper into Him than our feet have ever previously wandered!
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘FOR Y OUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; W E WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God has pursued us relentlessly. He loves us relentlessly. He never stops. He so loved us He sent His Son (John 3:16). He’s forgiven us ALL our sins on the cross (Col. 2:13). And He’s even placed us in this time and place on earth that we might discover and live in His deep deep well of love. See Acts 17:24-28:
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’”
The Greek Word “grope”, in the phrase “grope for Him” has a sense of feeling around in the dark for something. In this case, He’s even individually picked the time period and location He knew would most likely cause us to seek for and find Him and His love! And Friends, these verses also tell us that He is not far from us! Why? Because His love and pursuit of us is relentless!!
The common threads in all the truths discussed today are twofold. First, God’s love for us is outlandishly, lavishly relentless. Second, our turning our eyes to Him is all that is needed to find rest in His love, to find a higher plane of life and love with Him, to find new growth and development of heart, to know Him like we’ve never known Him before.
LIFTING OUR EYES
So friends, would you determine today, to take your eyes off the turbulent waters and place them onto Jesus in trust? When Peter was walking on the turbulent sea, the moment His eyes left Jesus He began to sink. The turbulent sea is noisy, scary, triggering every one of your senses, distracting, and surrounding you all around. It’s easy to see it, and can seem difficult to stop looking at. But friend, will you peel your eyes off it today? Will you dare to see Jesus, in all His relentless love, coming for you, pursuing you, loving you, staying faithful to you, forgiving you? He’s the one you can trust! You intrinsically know you can’t trust yourself. Know then: you can trust Him. Today, start by trusting His love. Trust it. Trust it. Trust it!
In closing, read over the lyrics of this familiar song*, and determine to do as they read:
And I will call upon your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise,
My soul will rest in your embrace
For I am yours
And you are mine.
Has it not been the earnest cry of your hearts, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, and I walk upon the waters wherever you would call me, take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…”? Friends, this stuff you’re in is the making of this answer to this prayer! He is saying, “Yes! It would be my delight to take you there!” And so the waters rise, so that our eyes will learn to rise even more and more. And so that love might be found, as it always has been, but like we’ve never found it before. He’s taking us deeper into Him than our feet could ever wander on their own! Do you see His relentless love?
Truly, we ask,
“What is man that You take knowledge of him?… Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!” Psalms 144:3,15
*Oceans, by Hillsong United, ©2012