In my own life, I am beginning to experience how multifaceted and unending my Father’s love is for me. He is always with me, and He has given me the fullness of new covenant life—yet I am still learning to live in His presence and manifest His Kingdom.
The more time I spend in His presence, the more I become aware of all He has given me.
The more I experience His love, the more I long to know Him in fullness.
The more I experience His love, the more He renews my mind to who I really am in Him, and the more He enables me to live as the amazing person He created me to be.
Life has become, for me, a progressive revelation of my identity as a co-heir with Christ (see Rom. 8:17). The enemy is eternally defeated, and he no longer has the power to control me (see Col. 2:15). Instead, I “reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).
What a contrast this has been to the first years of my Christian life. Not until my late thirties did I realized how hard my heart had become. I grew up with wonderful parents who loved each other and loved my brother and me.
Yet, because of a series of traumatic events in my early life, I learned as a young child to protect myself at all costs. I built walls all around me. When people would try to get close to me, I rebuffed them. I did not want anyone to have access to my heart. Instead, I believed:
• I can’t trust people; they only want something from me.
• Loving others causes me great pain.
• I can keep people at a distance to protect myself from being hurt.
• I must reject others before they reject me.
• If things get difficult, I should cut my losses and run.
Of course, while this does apply to some people, it does not apply to most. Yet, because of the fear and pain in my life, I found it safer to apply it to all people in hopes of avoiding the bad ones. For nearly four decades, I lived with this framework of deep skepticism and mistrust for others. I was clueless about how to even receive love, let alone give it.
What I thought was my demonstration of love was actually demanding, conditional, and inconsistent.
It was not love at all, but I was unwilling to see that, because I had used the pain in my heart to justify my choices and viewpoint.
Not surprisingly, the first few years of my marriage were horrible. Both my husband and I came into the marriage with a lot of emotional baggage, and after we were married, we created collective baggage.
In my deepest of hearts, I wanted be to loved, yet I was terrified of being hurt and rejected, so I refused to let any love get through. I did not have room for love in my heart, because it was filled with fear and pain.
Driven by self-destruction, I tried on numerous occasions to persuade my husband to get a divorce. At the same time, I knew something was wrong, and I desperately wanted to change. I just didn’t know how. Then, I met Jesus!
Though Jesus had become my Savior, the walls barricading my heart remained. Some of them softened, but many of them were my closest allies. It’s hard, even for Jesus, to have a relationship with someone who has walls like I did. I only had so much capacity for His love.
Because I didn’t believe He really loved me unless I worked hard and somehow measured up to His standards, I held Him at arm’s length.
But Jesus was patient. Eventually he broke through those walls, and for the first time, I was able to experience the love God had always had for me.
When I came to the end of my own strength, I discovered that my Father’s arms had been surrounding me all along. I just did not know He was there. I did not know what His love was like or how to allow myself to receive it.
I had no idea that God is, as Paul puts it, “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) and could heal my broken places. When I discovered His healing love, I realized that in every circumstance of my life, the compassionate and comforting Father desires to come alongside me and listen, encourage, console, reassure, calm, strengthen, and counsel me.
He wants to share Himself with me, no matter what’s going on in my life. In fact, this is one of the main things the Father does for us. It’s His specialty.
This is an excerpt from my new book Loved Like Jesus.
I wrote it because I want you to experience the deep love that your heavenly Father has for you. Living from this reality as a much loved son or daughter, you can rest in a confident connection with Him and experience abundant living and lasting freedom.
Order my book today for yourself and an extra copy for a friend, your pastor and/or your small group.
Be blessed, my friends.
Thanking Him for you,