I've discovered authentic and unconditional love.
I'm not talking about love at first sight (which is a misnomer).
I'm not talking about the type of relationship in which someone "loves" until it's no longer comfortable or convenient.
And I'm not talking about the kind of love that comes as long as I'm accepted or my behavior is approved.
I'm talking about the kind of love that is...
totally unexplainable by human standards,
loves regardless of what I do or say,
that is so overwhelming at times that I can literally feel it.
During recent months I've had some experiences which have seriously tested my faith. But it was during this time when I also discovered this unconditional, overwhelming love in my life. I've been a believer in Jesus, the Messiah, since childhood and always knew God loved me (who hasn't memorized John 3:16, right?). But I never really internalized and experienced that love first-hand. Whose fault is that? Ultimately it's my fault.
God was there all along. He was ready to pour out His love in abundance if I'd only let Him. I read an inspirational story recently that gives a good example of this. (The following is a retelling of this story in my own words.)
A young man loved an expensive guitar. He would often go to the music store and longingly stare at this guitar. He didn't have the money to buy it himself but hoped one day that he could buy it. His mother knew about this guitar and decided to surprise her son with the guitar for his birthday. She bought the guitar and placed it in the son's room so that when he woke up the next morning, he would see it.
The son didn't notice the guitar in his room. For several days in a row he went back to the store to look at the guitar. The clerk who sold the guitar to the young man's mother came up to him and asked how he liked his new guitar. The young man didn't know what he was talking about. The clerk explained that his mother came in several days earlier to purchase the guitar as a birthday surprise for him.
The son rushed home to look around. He went into his bedroom and finally saw the guitar sitting there with a bow on it. Somehow he was so focused on what he didn't have that he was missing out on what was there all along!
It's so easy to get focused on stuff that happens in life--or stuff that doesn't happen. We invite Jesus to come into our lives, but we let Him sit and wait by the front door. We don't let His love seep into all those nooks and crannies of our lives and become Lord. Maybe that happens because of ignorance (we didn't know we should or could or thought we had). Or maybe we did it because we have broken "trusters" from past hurts--those in our past have hurt us or let us down so we don't let anyone get too close. Shame could also be a reason we wouldn't let Jesus get too close. There are probably other reasons that might fit this scenario.
For me, a lot of it was a trust issue. It took a series of trials to get my attention. God used both circumstances and people to get my attention. You might ask, What kind of a loving God would allow those trials to happen? (The answer to that would be an entirely different blog post.) Suffice it to say, God knew me well enough to know what would work to get my attention. I felt His loving presence all along the way. With each event, I turned to God. Sometimes to ask Why (okay, a lot of times to ask Why). Even in the midst of hurt, God constantly showed me how much He loved me through the Word, through songs, through nature, and through people. He carefully worked on building that trust between us. When I began to open my eyes and see how He was working, I was amazed, astounded, and overwhelmed. I learned I could trust God because of such lengths He went to to get my attention and protect me in the midst of it all.
I once heard Beth Moore say that she says to God, I love you, too. She says that because Scripture tells us...
We love, because He first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19
So, God first tells us and demonstrates that He loves us. Therefore, we can whisper back to Him (our True Love)...
I love you, too!