At the beginning of this year I chose my word and theme for the year. It was love. I sought to understand God’s love more. I wanted to learn how to love others better. I thought that God would show me how to sacrifice more, that he would challenge me to give more of myself. And he did, but not in the way I thought he would. I’ve learned God’s greater love for me is to accept His love and recognize he does not love me any more on the days I fall short than on the days I shine for him.
Philip 3:12 “I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me and make me his own.”
God has taught me compassion by showing me compassion. He has shown me how to be merciful by showing me mercy. He has taught me how to love deeply by loving me deeply and not holding my sins against me.
Matt 10:8 “Freely you have received, freely give…”
I can find it difficult to receive unless I feel like I’ve earned it, but over and over again God has given to me when I felt least deserving. He’s entrusted women to me who have sought to know him, he’s entrusted me with the heart of a man. I’ve fallen short in these relationships and so many more, yet God continued to grant me favor and mercy.
Eph 2:8 “And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God.
No matter how often I have turned to my strength and wanted to earn God’s love by my deeds, he continued to show me, that it is not about what I do, but about who I become in Him. I am not worthy, and it’s only through God’s goodness that I get the opposite of what I deserve.
“God does not give us a list of rules to follow and then stand on the sidelines watching us fail. He gives us a new heart and then helps us do all that He has given us a desire to do.” – Joyce Meyer
I have learned that God is not mad at me. He doesn’t test me in the way I think he does. He withholds no good thing and always provides a way out from sin. When I begin to accept His love I can begin to love more, be more vulnerable, merciful, and compassionate with myself and others. The motivation for my repentance is not my desire to triumph over my sin but rather seeing how my sin greaves God. It is in those moments that Christ’s love truly compels me to change and I desire to do more for others instead of focusing on myself.
There is no greater motivator than love. Perfect love drives out fear. God wants my best for sure but he wants me to be motivated by His love. When I have fallen short this year, so many of those instances were rooted in fear. Fear of the unknown, of not being able to control given circumstances or outcome, fear of failure, well, you get the idea.
Is61:7 “Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land and everlasting joy will be theirs.”
God is trustworthy, competent and always there. As I continue to struggle and strive to accept his love completely and not rely on myself, I am reminded of this: God is who He says He is; He can do what He says He can do; I am who God says I am; and I can do all things through Him. I need to believe His words and accept them.
Ps119:117 “Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.
Jm1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
These scriptures continue to come to life in new ways for me as I deepen my understanding of God’s love for me. Now don’t get me wrong, this year has been one of great internal strife as I have sought with greater faith to believe in God’s love for me. It has also been the best year of my life as I have watched him reveal His love and transform me more and more into His likeness. I have seen parts of my character that truly made me cringe. My selfishness, judgment, arrogance, pride, cowardice, anger. He has revealed all the ugly dark corners of my soul that I wanted to keep buried. He has exposed every area that I had chosen to depend on myself instead of on Him and pushed me to make the change. He uprooted deep childhood pains and habits that I had refused to deal with which prevented me from truly repenting in certain areas of my life. And yet, with each excruciating exposure of the lack of perfection and falling short in my own performance, He has loved me so tenderly. It is this great love that has allowed me to be more vulnerable with others and to love them more in the way He desires, instead of on my own terms – with greater faith. As I close out the year I know that to continue this journey I will need greater faith. In my moments of unbelief I cry out, “God, I believe, help me to overcome by unbelief.”
Ultimately, I have learned that God doesn’t seek to change me so He can love me; His love is unconditional and not based on my behavior. When I seek to change I do so because of my love for Him. God wants me to continue to grow spiritually. In order to do so I will go through trials. If I am able to go through them with the right perspective of who He is and run to Him, I am able to learn, grow and draw closer to Him through that Love.
As the year closes out I am reflecting, from the safety of God’s love, on this years’ victories and mistakes, to take an inventory as I set and revise my spiritual goals for the New Year. It is my prayer and hope that God can do the same for you as you accept His love for you, and by the power of that love make greater faith decisions to grow, change, give and accept the immense love of our great God.