How To Really Know God Loves You

Disappointment seeped in and disguised itself as a knot in my stomach. Its companion, insecurity, was bolder, creeping up my neck and coming out in my words, my actions.

It wasn’t until the next morning when quiet time found me withdrawn and struggling to believe that the “aha” moment came…my perception of God’s love for me was tainted by the incident of yesterday that caused such disappointment.

“If nothing separates me from Your love (Rom 8),” I prayed, “and if Your loving kindness towards me fills the entire earth (Ps. 36:5), extending even to the heavens (Ps 57:10) to form a canopy over me, a crown on the head (Ps. 103), then it is not Your love for me that is in question; It is my perception of it. My perceptions are faulty and need repairing.”

How like the Israelites I am! A dry spell in the wilderness makes me forget the parting of the Red Sea! New challenges today make me mindless of the miracles He performed yesterday.

Identifying hinges on which my understanding of His love for me swings… the response from others… success (or lack of) in ministry…whether or not things go well…smooth paths… acceptable performance from me… on and on. Knowing these false hinges helps me stop the downward spiral. 

It doesn’t take long to realize that basing my perception of God’s love on these things means sure disaster. But I feel lost. Where do I begin? Just believing the fact that “God loves me” seems impossible when emotions are so strong.

I look to scripture for someone who can show me how to do this, give me a model to follow. I find David.

David knew God loved him. It was his backbone when facing Goliath, his wisdom when he was king, his hope when he had failed, his refuge when attacked, his strength when he woke mere man.

How did he do it? How did he ground himself in God’s love? What spiritual disciplines did he exercise that imparted this rich knowledge that served him well all his life? Did he just wait around to be zapped with his spiritual “AHA!” moments?

I was eager to find the answers, to take them as my own, to shape my life around them. In the story of a life lived thousands of years ago, I found answers… and a strong word of instruction:

 I have a responsibility in knowing God loves me.

 (No waiting for an “AHA” moment.) Because over and over the Bible says He loves me and He wants me to know it (Eph 3: 17, I John 4:17) and He shows me how to know it.

I am not the only one to have tainted perceptions and painful pasts and need help day after day knowing God’s love. The Israelites… well they were slaves, driven and beaten and not given a voice either. How could they claim to be God’s people, to be the recipients of His love and favor when they had been so abused and mistreated?

The evil one asks this of me, too. The only weapon is the Sword of Truth, kept sharp by spiritual disciplines that ensure my perceptions are pure, accurate, true, SOLID.

Piece by piece, bit by bit, I am mentored by a man who did it right. I sketch David’s habits, learning his ways from the Psalms. I take on his habits:

~~Start first thing in the morning.

When David rose in the morning, tapping into God’s love was his priority. (Ps. 108:1-4) He expected God’s love. He listened for it. He looked for it. (Ps. 143:8) He believed it would be there and he trusted it to guide him. Day after day, morning after morning, he was satisfied FIRST with God’s love for him, drank full up with it.

 So it will be for me.

~~Develop eyes for God’s love.

The ancients considered the specific loving-kindnesses of God by listing them (Ps. 107). Our ancestors show me that consciously recognizing and recording God’s expressions of love is a vital discipline for remaining intact spiritually (Ps. 48:9). Great demise and loss came to those who failed to develop this practice Ps. 106:7.

Ps. 107:43, “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

I make a lifelong commitment to recognize God’s expressions of love, record them on paper, and recall them to mind throughout the day.

~~Start speaking of His love aloud.

After learning how to recognize God’s expressions of love and consciously considering them, pondering them, and remembering them, David spoke of them to others (Ps. 40:10, 63:3, 92:1-2, 59:16,) . He declared God’s goodness through testimony, giving thanks, and singing. I look for outlets to share of God’s love, even if it is simply with my children.

~~Find “triggers” to remind self of God’s love.

Two triggers mentioned repeatedly in scripture are the sun and birds. If the sun comes up, it is because God is still faithful, because His covenant of love still stands (Ps 89:2, 36-37)! We can know for sure that His mercies are new with the rising of the sun. (Lam 3) { I will often exclaim to my husband in the morning, “The sun came up!” and we rejoice together that God is still faithful.}

Scripture tells us that God feeds the birds, cares for them, and knows when each one of them falls. He satisfies the desires of every living creature (Ps 145:15-16) and if He cares for the creatures, He certainly cares for me. When I see a bird {which happens multiple times a day} I think, “God fed that little thing today and His eye is on him. How much more is His eye and affection upon you?”

The wise man said, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Prov 3:3

These habits help me see God’s love in daily life, wrap myself in it, and write it onto my heart. For additional scriptures on recognizing God’s love in everyday life, see:
Psalm 147
Psalm 104
Psalm 89

Related posts on Developing the Habit of God’s Love:

Rooted and Grounded in Love

Walking in God’s Eulogy

Join us next Monday for more on developing the habit of “Love.”


Ridiculous

It is ridiculous the way He treats me, it really is.

Kids have been sick with a stomach bug, ear infections, and more. I’ve been trying to keep up on the piles of laundry and the bleaching to keep germs from spreading, fighting off sickness myself.

And through it all, yesterday’s mail sat in the box all night, getting soaked with the rain that’s replaced the snow of late.

This morning I splashed through the puddles in house shoes. I retrieved the soggy mess and flipped through the ads and solicitations.

A hand addressed envelope.

I opened that one first.

I scanned the letter. Jaw drops as something flutters out. A large check. From someone who does not know us but “got our name” from someone else.

Like I said, it is ridiculous the way He treats me.

I go back and re-read the letter. What I find there is even more surprising, the un-mistakable “God print” that speaks of His authorship of this generous gift: Joshua 1:8-9, part of my key passage for 2011.

The kids are listening to K-Love and one of my favorite songs is playing. “And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?”

I get down on my knees and thank Him, awestruck.

Sure, the financial gift is a tremendous blessing. But this scripture? The timeliness of this song? This message piercing my heart from all directions?

A reminder from the hand of God through the pen of a stranger that this is the year of conquest and He is behind me, in front of me, above me and beneath me. He is FOR ME!

Right here, right now. With the rain puddles and the sick babies and the sleepless nights and the pharmacy runs.

Thunder shakes my window pane and I inhale His sound. My heart thumps to His rumble. I hear His heart.

It is ridiculous the way He treats me. Ridiculously Lavish. Ridiculously Good. Ridiculously Loving.

Ridiculous.


When Your Eyes Can’t See What They Need To

“Look Mom!” he cried. “Heaven’s coming down!”

I looked in my rear-view mirror to see all four kids peering out the window at the sight, the excitement so great I wondered if Jesus Himself was coming through the clouds.

As carefully as I could,  I leaned over to look out the passenger side window.

Sure enough, heaven was coming down. Rays splintered through the clouds in streams, and in the middle… one big ball of yellow.

We slowed and breathed our compliments to Maker God and wondered how something so wondrous could ever be considered ordinary.

I wondered if any one else had the eyes to see what little ones saw. I wondered if the other travelers even noticed the display of glory or if they were rushing, pushing, consumed by the meaningless. I was startled by how many times I surely missed heaven coming down.

How many times I missed His expressions of love in a wind’s whisper? A bird’s flight? The night moon?

Have my eyes become so accustomed to the frills and fluff of economic prosperity- slick brochures, fancy wrappings, well-dressed presentations- that I’ve lost the eyesight for real beauty?

Have I lost the eyes to perceive His mercies that are new every day?

Have I lost the ability to SEE His glory that fills the whole earth and His loving-kindness towards me that stretches to the skies?

If Jesus had come on white steed as King, we would have had the eyes for Him. But as a babe? In a manger?

Who had eyes for that?

And today, if we’ve got fancy marketing techniques and web designs and skilled orators and classy presentations, we can garner the attention, gain their eyes. But what if He comes in the ordinary?…the babes…the birds… the seeds that break open to give forth life? The chance to love the least of these, to smile, to hope?

What if…ahem… What if He only whispers His invitation? What if day after day, heaven comes down?

And what if I live my life missing it?

The thought grabs me, shakes me, awakens me to train my eyesight. To see Him in the toothless grin of an old Asian man; to feel His love in the perfect poinsettia that sits atop my ledge; to sense His belief in me every time my babe runs to me for comfort.

The Christ Child shows me the way. Forget the malls and the fancy packaging and the slick sales pitches, even the Christian ones I have grown accustomed to, accept as norm. My eyes have been trained in their ways far, far too long.

The Babe trains different senses, spiritual eyes and ears if I will but listen, if I will gather around Him in stillness.

He teaches me that the most significant gifts come with skin on.

Expect treasure amidst the hay. {Who said significant had to look a certain way?}

Find the last place people go and linger there.

Look to the heavens. {Even now, night after night they pour forth speech, yes?}

And expect Him! Expect Him! Expect Him! Emmanuel has come!

It takes some practice, living this way. It means being desperate enough to take off the old, rip the dark eyes right out.  It means taking Grace at His word, no room for unbelief or pride. But the wondrous truth spurs on:

Heaven has come down, God is with us, and all I need do is behold.

***Join me in 2011 for an ongoing series in developing our spiritual senses? I’m writing a Bible study for our ladies at church and I’d like to record it here in my journal as we go…


When God Stoops Down

I saw God today.

I was writing the letter to Pops. He has been sick and still clings to the notion that he is not good enough for God.

We’re afraid his time is running out.

We urge him in spirit to embrace the Grace of Jesus.

Then it hits me, this God-knowledge…that the gift of the van to us was not just for us, not even primarily for our needs, but for his.

His need to hear affirmation. His need to receive honor. His need to know God doesn’t hate him.

For wasn’t it the kindness of God that led the men of Jabesh-Gilead to do what they did?

A fallen King, one who had chosen foolishly and reaped the consequences of those fool choices and paid dearly. One who had lost all honor and dignity. One who had lost courage, a tragedy indeed.

“Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men rose and walked all night, and took the body of Saul and his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. They took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh and fasted seven days.” I Samuel 31:11-13

Risked their lives for a loser, and a dead one at that.

It’s called honor. It’s an act of kindness.

“May you be blessed of the Lord,” David told them, “because you have shown this kindness to Saul your lord, and have buried him.”

God’s lovingkindness bestows honor…and it does not rest on the character, conduct, or response of the recipient. (See Matt 5:43-48)

Pops needs to see God’s lovingkindness. The van for us was the abundance…the words of esteem from a stranger is the kindness of God to a man who doesn’t know Him.

Like I said, I saw God.

I’m amazed.


Dear Pops,

I am writing to say thank you for the son you raised and entrusted to me nearly 17 years ago. After giving us the van this weekend, Mr. Garrison told John multiple times that he wanted to write you a letter and tell you what a fine son you have.

Even asked for your address.

John and I talked about that, how that is probably the greatest a compliment a father- a man- can receive, someone asking, “Who’s your Daddy?” after meeting them.

So I give words of honor to the man who taught my husband how to be a man…how to fish and how to clean a gun and how to back a trailer. You taught him how to be a father, how to be fearless, how to stand up for someone weaker. You taught him how to work hard, how to value his word, and how to help with the dishes.

I have watched your son walk in integrity when it cost him, when no one else was looking.

I have watched your son cry man tears for the sake of another when no one else cared.

I have watched your son stand fearlessly and confidently. I have seen him tested and come through true. I have been passionately and undeservedly loved by your son and I’m a different person for it.

Your son has marked the lives of people all over this world…and one man voiced it for us all, “Son, who’s your daddy?”

That would be you, Pops. Thank you for a fine son, Pops, a loving husband, a devoted father, a world changer.

Our hats are off.

~~DD


What does Lovingkindness look like?

I’ve been studying examples of lovingkindness in the Scriptures. I want clear understanding of what I am looking for throughout my day, now that my goal is to give Him thanks for His lovingkindness.

So today I made notes on what lovingkindness looks like and I came to the story of Abraham’s servant looking for a wife for Isaac. He prayed that God would give him success and show him lovingkindness…and He did. His lovingkindness led him to the well and to Rebekkah, who became Isaac’s wife.

One way lovingkindness is demonstrated is through guidance.

Well. We’ve been looking and praying about a vehicle. We have not wanted to take matters into our own hands and have not felt peace about anything we have come upon up to this point.

But last night, as John was driving home from practical missions, he saw a van for sale on the side of the road at the lawyer’s office. A 2008 Chevy Uplander, 62,000 miles, still under warranty.

He talked to the gentleman. $9995.

This morning he and the neighbor, a mechanic, went down to test drive it. As they left, I got on my knees and prayed, “Lord, You show Your lovingkindness to your people through guidance and direction, and we need Your guidance in buying this van. If this is Your will and this van is ours, please let us know. Please give John confidence and direction as he goes today.”

About 20 minutes later John returned and said, “Well, we’re getting a van. I told the man we want to buy it.”

John and the gentleman had negotiated and settled on $9500 and John told him he would be down there on Monday morning with the check.

As John was leaving, the man asked him, “Did you used to live around here?”

John said he did. The man asked, “Did you used to pastor a church that met in Savon’s?”

John said yes, and the man said, “We visited your church and you came to visit us at our house.”

John apologized for not recognizing them and the gentleman said, “The pastor who came after you visited us as well and told us that you went on the mission field.”

“Yes, we’ve been there for eight years and are back now for school.”

They chatted a bit more then John left.

A couple hours after they left, we get a phone call.

“John, it’s Mr. Garrison. My wife and I have talked about this and we want to give you this car. We want you to come on down and get it.”

Wowzer!

What can I say??!! The family loaded up and we went down to meet this couple who had just given a $10,000 van to a family they didn’t know.

Talk about the lovingkindness of the Lord! I guess not only did He provide the guidance and direction we needed, He provided the whole kit and caboodle.

I just don’t know what to say other than Praise the Lord! His lovingkindness is everlasting.