Monday, April 26, 2010

Receiving & Returning God's Love

I've done a lot of thinking recently about God's love. Because the only thing I have to compare it to is a human relationship, this is my point of reference.

When a man loves a woman, is it enough that he loves her? Can he be satisfied to feel that emotion and not want anything else? NO, when a man loves a woman, he becomes relentless in his pursuit of her. What becomes his greatest desire? To consummate the relationship. He wants his love to be received and returned and he can be satisfied with nothing less.

Well, I believe it is the same with God. It is not enough for Him that He loves us. He, too, is relentless in His pursuit of us. He wants to lavish His love upon us. He wants to bless us with "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17) And He will not be satisfied until the relationship is consummated; until we fully receive His love and fully love Him in return.

To consummate means "to bring to completion; conclude; to perfect; to complete". To consummate a relationship means to bring to completion and conclusion the pursuing period and to perfect and complete it with the ultimate act of intimacy.

God desires that kind of intimacy with us and that intimacy can only be achieved when we fully receive and fully return His love.

Thus His commandment to us - "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind". (Matthew 22:37) It is for our benefit that we return His love.

An excerpt from the book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers -

"She thought she had been saved by his love for her, and in part she had been. It had cleansed her, never casting blame. But that had been only the beginning. It was loving him in return that had brought her up out of the darkness."

As we turn our attention, our emotions and our love upon Him, it drives out all other lovers. As we focus our love upon Him, we are further healed; we are completed and we find the cares of the world fall away. Things take on a more balanced perspective and we find our trust is increased and our love continues to deepen. We are more grateful; less fretful. He becomes our true focus!

Work in my heart, Lord, to love you more and deeper than I do today. Increase in me that I might decrease!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

God our Redeemer

The following is an excerpt from a book by Eugenia Price called St. Simons Memoir:

" 1884, Anson Greene Phelps Dodge, Jr., had rebuilt Christ Church Frederica in memory of his bride, Ellen, who died on their honeymoon; he then had taken Holy Orders and become its rector." "Wow," I breathed. "What a story!" Then, after a long moment, I said aloud, but almost to myself, "Anson Dodge lived out what I've been writing about for years from all angles I could think of!"
It was true. For years, I had studied and thought and written about the concept that if God is a Redeemer, He must be able to redeem far more than sin. He allows tragedies to happen so He must have a way to redeem them. A way to shine up, to make useful even our heartache and weeping. Surely, if we stay open to His intentions, if we allow it - He will find a way not to waste a single tear.
And here were a few bare facts in a guidebook telling me a story that bore out this concept dramatically. No greater tragedy, it seemed to me, could strike a young man's life than to lose his beloved on their honeymoon. In his grief, he could have fallen into self-pity. He could have become an alcoholic. He could have killed himself. Instead, he had seemingly allowed God to make creative, redemptive use of his tragedy. He had rebuilt Christ Church in his bride's memory and had then given himself to the people of the Island. His grief had not been wasted."

My hope is built on nothing less than this - the fact that God can and does redeem all situations in our lives and works all out for our best and to promote His purposes for us. When my husband died, after my initial disbelief, I remember thinking exactly this way - "OK, God knew from before the foundations of the earth, the number of days Phil would live; He knew when he would be born and when he would die. He also knew that Phil would marry me and that I would be left without Him. Because God knew all this, He knew that I would be alone and He has made provision for me. He has a plan and purpose for my life and my responsibility now is to position myself before Him to find that plan and purpose and fulfill it as best I can." This thought process also led me to the thought that in order for God to do that, He had to redeem this situation in my life. I could not live the rest of my life in debilitating grief. I could not mourn Phil's death for the rest of my life. I will never forget him and if truth be told, if I had a choice, I would reverse what has happened, but I can't, so I need to give my husband the most meaningful gift that any woman could give a man - my total effort at learning how to live creatively without him. And I had to give my God my total effort of trusting that He knows best for me.

The last six years of my life have not always been easy, but God has been more than faithful to me to provide all I need and more. He has been the strength of my heart and my portion. He has sustained me through seasons of grief when I didn't think I was going to make it and He has redeemed all that I have walked through. He has restored my soul and spirit in a way that I wasn't sure was possible.

Whatever you may be walking through today, know that God IS sufficient for you and is able to redeem what seems unredeemable right now. Let Him walk through it with you. Allow Him to take your hand and walk with you. Pour out your heart honestly to Him and trust Him with it.

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3: 20, 21