love

Do You Know?

This is my fourth attempt to start this post. The others weren’t quite right, so I hit the delete key until they were gone. I can’t think of a clever hook or story because what is weighing heavy on me is nothing new.

If you grew up in the church, you learned to sing Jesus Loves Me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.

Do you know God loves you?love

Do you know Jesus loves you?

Do you know the Spirit loves you?

Do you?

Loves you. Not loves what you do. Not loves your character. Not loves the ways you interact with people. Not loves your cooking or crafting or singing.

Jesus loves you. Do you know it? I’m sorry to go on and on, but I stumbled into a dark corner this spring and I can’t shake it. I lead an on-line book club for Christian women who live and serve cross-culturally. Our spring book was Expectations and Burnout: Surviving the Great Commission by Robynn Bliss and Sue Eenigenburg. Even if you don’t serve overseas, this is now my go-to book when it comes to expectations. The authors looked in depth at the expectations we have of ourselves and our roles, sending churches, sending organizations, co-workers, the culture, and of God.

The dark corner I stumbled into? Over and over women commented about what a new and freeing idea it was that God loved them. That they didn’t have to do more, move to a hard place, cook like Betty Croker, or be all things to all people. God loved them not because of what they did. Instead God loved them – loved them because they existed.

 

God loved them not because of what they did. Instead God loved them – loved them because they existed.

 

This is the heart of the gospel. Recently I have been reading the familiar verse John 3:16 from a fresh angle.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The three words that jump out:

Loved

Perish

Life

God so loved us that He gave His son so we wouldn’t perish but have life. Perishing can start here on earth. Relationships with family members can perish. Hope can perish. Patience can perish. And when we move away from love, we move towards death.

It’s so subtle, isn’t it? God doesn’t want us to do things for him. He wants to do life with us. Some lies are easy to smell out. God wants you to put yourself through college by being a prostitute. Others are more subtle. God wants you to be give more time to your church.

Maybe He does. I don’t know what you and God are talking about. Why I say this is a subtle lie is because of how quickly we believe it. How quickly it sticks to us and we nod in agreement. Yes, I really should ….whatever it is that you think you should do.

As soon as you hear a “should,” a little bell needs to go off. Should you? Must you? Or could you? Might you? See the subtle shift? Hear the freedom? The wooing? The love?

 

God doesn’t want us to do things for him. He wants to do life with us.

 

We’re back where we started. Do you know God loves you? If you don’t, stick around Self Talk The Gospel and this message will sink in. This is the heart of what we are about, telling ourselves and each other the truth.

God loves you.

God doesn’t need you doing more for Him to win His favor.

I’m on a bit of a love campaign. I lived in China for almost 20 years. I’m so thankful I did and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. But. You knew that was coming, right? But, when your full time job and focus and ways you raise money to support yourself are around what you do (how can a job not be around doing?), we need to counterbalance it with love.

Yes, we are made for a purpose. Yes, cooking and making crafts and singing are tasty and worthwhile and fun. Yes, work is good. But love is better. And knowing it is the best.

Jesus loves me, this I know. May this be your refrain today, tomorrow, and to the end of your days.
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Image Credit: Helga Weber, Creative Commons


Amy Young

About

Amy Young is readjusting to messy middle of life in the US after more than twenty years in China and the recent death of her dad. When she first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words really needed in life. She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at messymiddle.com and tweets as @amyinbj and is the most unbeautiful pinner Pinterest has ever seen (but she's having fun!).


  • Elizabeth Trotter

    Oh Amy — yes yes yes. Loves us because we exist, because He made us, and He is Love. This week in family devotionals we read the story of Jacob fleeing Esau and sleeping on a stone and having that ladder dream. It hit me like never before: God interacts with us, relates to us, speaks to us, not because of what we’re doing or how well we’re following Him [because Jacob WASN’T], but because He loves us. He has chosen us, and our relationship with Him isn’t dependent upon our good behavior, our good standing, our proper obedience. It wasn’t until YEARS later that Jacob was really following God with his heart, but here God gave Him an experience of Him that was so intense that he named the place Bethel, or house of God. He met God there, and it wasn’t for anything he had done. And that’s very hopeful for me — I may not “deserve” interaction with God, but I get it anyway. So hopeful to think God wants to interact with me, no matter the state of my soul.

    I’m not explaining it very well here, but hearing my husband read it out loud to our kids spoke to deep places inside me. I tried to share it afterwards with our kids, and it may not yet make sense to such childlike faiths — young hearts that don’t yet doubt God’s love for us human beings — but I hope that planting these kinds of revelations in their little hearts and minds will help them later in life, that they will be able to look back on what their parents said about God’s love and see His love written all over Scripture in a way that is sometimes hidden from the more legalistic among us.

    Anyway, I guess that’s my way of saying thanks for the story of Jacob’s ladder this week.

    • http://messymiddle.com/ Amy Young

      Elizabeth I don’t doubt for a minute that you and Jonathan are planting the best seeds in the hearts of your children (of course, no guarantees, but you two are sowing love so really, you can’t go wrong in the big picture! It might not play out the way you think and I’m now on a tangent, sorry!).

      I think this message is so deep in me because it was repeated so often from my parents. My sisters and I were loved not because of what we did but because we were (now, there were still standards, but even when i blew it, I never for a moment felt unloved.). Now I’m the one not explaining it well :) … I have a headache and it just won’t leave me so my thoughts are fuzzy :). But my sentiment is earnest!

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