Friday, September 19, 2008

Reflections on God's love

I remember the day it dawned on me, about 6 months into my recovery journey, that "no thing" was more important in life than the relationships I have with my family and with God. That revelation brought about a grieving process - with loud sobbing and blubberng - that lasted the entire day as I realized how over and over again throughout the years I had deliberately turned away from the people who love me - and from God's love. I was terrified of intimacy because I believed the lie that I was not trustworthy or responsible. God showed me how empty and sterile my life had been, and how often I'd hurt the people who loved me - especially my kids - because of my selfishness and my fears. It was devastating to realize this but it had a huge impact on me that changed me forever. I still have to work hard at being comfortable with intimacy and closeness, but it's too important for me not to try.

What brought me to that point in my life was that I had had a personal revelation of God's love for me just a few weeks before on the day I gave my life to Jesus. God poured His love into me and Jesus' presence with me was so real that I exclaimed to myself in surprise, "Jesus is alive!" The fact that Jesus stayed with me for three days after that, giving me courage to share my Step One history with my recovery group (which was like a confession of all the shameful things I had ever done in my addiction) and forgiving me, and showing me the world as He sees it, including all the turmoil and woundedness in people, gave me unmistakable evidence that I was treasured, loved and chosen by the God who had created the universe.

Knowing that God loves me this way is what motivates me to do good and to try to be a good person. I'm not trying to earn my way into heaven with good deeds. I just want to please my Poppa who loves me, and when I do things that defile myself or hurt others my heart grieves because I know that there is nothing that is hidden from Him. I would do anything for Him and go anywhere He sends me because I love Him so much and am so grateful for His love for me. I want everyone who is hurting and feeling rejected to know His love too and that is why I do what I do. If, somehow, I can introduce them to Jesus then they too can know how precious they are to their Father in Heaven and be transformed by His love. This is the mission that I have been given as a beloved child of God.

Jesus tried to teach the religious leaders of his day, that God cares more about what's inside of us, in our hearts, than about what we do or how we look on the outside. There are many people who practice piety; they go around like "white washed sepulchres" trying to look good and to do good, but you can sense that inside they're really rotten and hateful. Jesus instructed jpeople like this, the Pharisees, to go and learn the meaning of "'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." He cared more about how they responded to the poor and the downtrodden than about their empty offerings and religious practices. He also told them that he didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners. What a great God! He didn't send the Messiah to save those who make a show of being holy and righteous! He sent His One and Only Son to call sinners - the embarrasments, the ignored, the outcasts, the unsaintly - into an intimate relationship with Him! What an amazing God! What extravagant love and incredible mercy!

That is why I am so in love with Him: Jesus came to me when I was feeling dirty and ashamed, and believed I was unworthy of love - especially God's. I had defiled myself and rebelled against God almost all of my life, and yet He came and poured his love into me and chose to stand beside me to strengthen me and protect me and love me. I lay down my life for this kind of love; there is nothing that could ever compare to knowing the tender loving care and mercy of God. And I throw myself on the Cross because I know that I am a wretched sinner redeemed by grace, by the love and the sacrifice of Jesus who laid down His life for us. Thank You Lord that you died for me.

Then turning toward the woman (Jesus) said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."
Luke 7:44-47

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