I’ve spent the last two years trying to figure out what it means to be loved by God.
Obviously this is a life-long pursuit, but it’s been at the forefront of my mind for the past two years. I’ve been more conscious than ever that I believe that there is a God, and that he does love the world, but I still have a very hard time believing that he’s in love with me.
About a year ago I was at church just standing in the corner after the service had ended. My extrovert tank had emptied and I was running out the clock until I could load the family up and head home. A woman came up from behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and we immediately made eye contact. I had never seen her before, but somehow she felt familiar. She kept her eyes fixed on mine, and after a short pause, said, “Hey Jerrad, I just wanted you to know that I’ve been praying for you.” And then she began to walk away.
Now, I’ve been in the church world a long time and have heard every cliche church saying under the sun. I’m not a big fan of saying things just to say them, so I stopped the woman before she could walk away and asked her what she had been specifically praying for; Partly to call her out on any ‘fluffy’ talk and partly because I was genuinely curious. She turned around and again looked into my eyes without speaking. It’s like she was looking at something deeper. Something I couldn’t even see. Her eyes started to fill with tears.
“I’ve been praying that you would really understand God’s love for you, because I don’t think you’ve begun grasp it.”
Immediately my cynicism died as my own eyes started to well up. Her words had hit a deep nerve. She gave me a hug and walked away.
Her name was Angela. I’ve never seen her before or since then.
I think at the core, I believe that God loves the world because he has to. It’s somehow part of his ‘Godly duties’. But I haven’t been convinced that he likes everyone. In fact, I’ve seemed to convince myself that instead of delighting in his children (Psalm 149:4), he just tolerates them. I've bought into this lie since I was a young boy.
The truth is that the God of the Bible doesn’t just tolerate his people, but he actually enjoys them.
God doesn’t just love his people, he genuinely likes them.
And therein lies one of the greatest parenting lessons we can learn from our God.
We often tell our kids that we love them. If you don’t, you should. They need to hear it. But when was the last time you looked into the eyes of your children and told them that you like them? That you genuinely enjoy them?
Don’t let your kids grow up believing that you loved them because it was somehow part of your “parenting duties”. Teach them the same truth that our Father is trying to teach us; Jesus doesn’t just tolerate us, he delights in us.
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