I immediately knew I was going to be teaching when I saw the text. No one was lined up to teach our young adults group on Sunday evening, and I was sent a text if I had any ideas on who to ask, but I knew it was meant for me. "Okay God, I responded in my head, what do you want me to share?"
This is what I hear:
"I want you to tell them how good I am. I want you to tell them how kind I am, I want you tell them how much I love them. (I open up a journal at this point to start writing it down, because I realize it's going to be more than I can hold in my head.) Tell them that when they are full of LOVE, enamored with who I AM, fear falls away, insecurities are gone, eyes are opened, and walls are broken down. Tell them my LOVE is continuously washing over them and the more they are filled with love the less room there is for anything else. Tell them my love is perfect. My love is whole. My love is enough. It's complete and lacking nothing. And my love, it's in them. It's in you.
When we are in love, WE are complete, lacking nothing."
Insert tiny moment of panic. This is what I'm struggling to learn myself, how can I teach on it? I think back to something a leader once told me, how you often get more out of teaching than being taught. And I remember that I can be honest with where I'm at, that I don't have to be all perfect, and that we are ALL always learning how to better live perfectly aligned with love. So I text back with, "I have something to share, so I can if that sounds good."
As I started prepping, I thought about how easy it is to have a skewed perspective of God's love. How if we aren't grounded and rooted in love, every circumstance can change our perspective. I thought about how I spent years thinking I had to earn God's love, and how I still lean that direction on the hard days. Thinking that if I just get this ONE THING right, then I'll be loved, but I had no idea what the "one thing" was. The stakes were always higher. The "one thing" didn't give the results I wanted so then it would move to something bigger. It was a constant place of striving and perfectionism and shame. And then I discovered true, unconditional LOVE, the love of a savior on a cross, and it turned my world upside down. In the good kind of way.
There are two ways to live: we can live from love, or we can live for love. I found that the difference between the two is life changing in all-the-ways.
Living FOR love looks a lot like this:
- Stress and Anxiety - you believe that you have to get everything right.
- Fear - you believe that God might not come through for you.
- Pride - you care more what people think than what God thinks, you think you have to be approved of or impress people to be loved.
- Expectations - you're looking for a certain response from people.
Living FROM love looks like this:
- Peace - worry and anxiety are given to God.
- Security - there's no fear of abandonment or rejection.
- Trust - there's no doubt that God won't show up for you.
- Humility - there is no pride or people pleasing present.
- Service - you give with no expectations attached.
- Grace - there's no pressure to be perfect.
When we struggle to believe that we truly are loved, this is when it's difficult to live without everything going awry. Living loved is the place God wants to bring us to. This is who he is. God is not a cruel, overbearing boss looking over our shoulder waiting for us to make a mistake. He is love. Perfect, whole, complete, beautiful, love. And he's invited us into that love.
God is confident that his love is enough for us. He is confident that we have what it takes. He is confident in himself, in the systems he has in place. He's confident in his love for us and he's confident in the ability he has given us to see his love and receive his love.
I found myself meditating over these scriptures, tears streaming over my cheeks, as God came with his love and reminded me, reminded my heart, how he really sees me. I found his love showing up where I'd doubted, the fears subsiding, and my soul encouraged as love made itself known.
If you're struggling to receive love or feel loved today, these verses (the Message version) are some great reminders that you are so very loved. xo
Jer. 31:3 God told them, "I've never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!"
John 15:9-10 I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done - kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love.
Zeph. 3:17 Your God is present among you, a strong warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he'll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.
Romans 8:35-39 None of this fazes us because Jesus love us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Malachi 3:17-18 God said, "they're mine, all mine. They'll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them. Once more you'll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn't, between serving God and not serving him."
Eph. 2:7-9 Now God has us were he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing.
Gal. 5:22-23 What happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to direct our energy wisely.