Ephesians 3:17-19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Oh, how I long to breathe in every moment, embracing how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. But my trust in God can sometimes get hijacked by my propensity toward the negative, and I struggle to believe.
The most significant work in my Christian life is accepting and believing God loves me.
Last Friday, my friend Minerva Monte came over for lunch and brought up this subject. She is a passionate woman who uses her hands and body to explain things. After listening to me talk about my life, she told me I need to fight for my relationship with God by becoming laser-focused on his love for me. She said it is easy to get lazy in that area by dwelling on past hurts. She delivered her fiery message to me while walking around my kitchen, using wild hand gestures and bumping into my wall for emphasis. Thanks, Minerva. You made your point!! Now I’m writing a blog about it because of you. 😊
Why is it so hard for God’s love to be tangible? My take on this is that the physical, emotional, and mental suffering we experience in this fallen world can become a barometer for how much God loves us. A barometer measures atmospheric pressure. The needle often drops before bad weather. If we are blessed, the needle of God’s love goes up and stays in the normal range, but if we suffer the needle drops, and God’s love is in the low range.
I have experienced God’s tender love and kindness during the most challenging times in my life. However, as soon as my attention turns toward unfulfilled dreams, past betrayals, and problems of this world, my confidence is shaken.
Here are some examples of how God’s love can become lost in translation:
- You walk into a room full of people and feel invisible and unimportant.
- Your spouse tells you they want a divorce.
- Your teenager is struggling, and they don’t want your help.
- You cannot get pregnant.
- You had a miscarriage.
- You flee your country because another country’s ruler thinks they should rule and own your land.
- Your friend couldn’t be there for you when you needed her the most.
- God doesn’t seem to be answering your persistent prayer.
The list can go on and on.
Often we think that when someone loves us, they should know our love language. When God does not answer our persistent prayers for that one thing we long for, we can think he is withholding from us and doesn’t care.
Ephesians 3:17-19 mentioned above sheds some light on what it takes to accept and believe God’s love.
The love of God needs to be grasped and learned. The Bible describes God’s will and character in various types of literature: history, letters, narrative, poetry, prophecy, teaching, and wisdom. Don’t miss the theme threaded throughout the Bible – God is crazy in love with us. God wants us to read the Bible like we are on a treasure hunt. We need to be willing to struggle with what the Bible says and persist in the search until we discover and believe.
It takes being in a community with others to understand how much God loves us. Minerva helped me last Friday to see my focus was slightly off. With her hands, she showed me I needed to pivot my head and fixate my gaze on God. I have some beautiful friends willing to enter the battle with me to keep our hearts from becoming hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. My friend Diane Uhler is this kind of friend to me. She hears what I say, and then she eagerly shares a Bible verse or a Bible story that is perfect for my scenario. She makes me smile when she says, “What I am saying to you is….” Then I know some words of wisdom are coming my way.
It is evident that Paul, the author of Ephesians 3, accepts the love of Jesus as real, measurable, and substantial rather than beautiful fiction or theory. We can too!!
We are what we think. My go-to thought for most of my Christian life is that God blesses some people more than others; however, these thoughts make me judgemental towards God’s ability to dispense his grace. Yikes. That is hard to admit. I’m battling these negative thoughts by journaling every day, writing my observations of how God tangibly loves me and others around me. Speaking the truth about God’s love rather than believing the lies of Satan eradicates my judgment towards God, myself, and others.
Here are some suggestions for believing God loves you.
- Find a good Christian book that explains God’s grace and love well. Gentle and Lowly – The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers is a great book, and another book that has helped me is A Shepherd’s Look at Pslams 23.
- Go back to the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and take note of how Jesus loves people. Read the account of the cross at the end of each gospel. Knowing Jesus subjected himself to death on the cross, helps me understand our God more than shares in our sufferings.
- Find a few verses about God’s love that resonate with you. Write them down on an index card and tape them to your mirror.
- Journal about the specific ways you can see God helping you through a difficult situation. Sometimes, we are blind to how God is right in the middle of our anxiety and fear, offering help.
- Pray with a friend about the strongholds you have in your heart that keep you from seeing God’s love.
- Start speaking the truth about God’s love to others. Share a verse with them that has touched your heart.
- Love others the way you want God to love you.
Are you willing to put in the work of grasping how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ? Because if you do, you’ll know the love that surpasses knowledge, and your cup will be overflowing with God’s love.