“You see, they didn’t understand. It wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus there, it was the love.” (The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name – Grand Rapids: Zonderkidz, 2007), 304.
Last time we talked about grace, but today I want to conclude with love…God has really been working with me this year regarding this word. You see, I tend to have perfectionistic qualities. I think in order for someone to love me, I have to be perfect. Now, I’m not stupid enough to think I’ll ever achieve perfect in this lifetime, but I still strive for it sometimes nevertheless. The more I mess up, screw up, miss the mark of perfectionism, the less lovable I feel.
I’ve always had head knowledge that God loves me. The very first song I learned to sing was “Jesus loves me, this I know,” but the problem lies in the fact that I didn’t really know, not with my heart. I wanted to know, I tried to know, I rationalized that I must know, but I didn’t really know.
And, I know this because despite the fact that I’ve always been in a process of growing my relationship with God and not just followed a bunch of rules or rituals, when I messed up, I always fell back on “rules.” I didn’t come to my Father as one would come to an earthly father, knowing I had messed up but with the security of being loved nevertheless. No, instead I would hide, waiting for the “big boom” that was sure to come – the thunderbolts, the lightning, some type of punishment for failing to live up to my own perfect standards. Sadly, I didn’t realize that the perfectionism I worked so hard to attain was in fact only on my agenda.
This past year God has been showing me that He never called me to be perfect. No, He loves me so much that He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for me, because He knew I wasn’t perfect. And, I realized as well that even if I was the only person on this Earth, He loves me so much that He would have done it anyway.
I’ve heard that message my whole life, but this year it’s finally started sinking into my heart that it was because of God’s love for me, that Jesus stayed up on that cross and died a grueling death so that I might live. Now, notice I said started sinking in. I still hit the default button at times and when I mess up go back to thinking I have to do something to earn God’s love back. However, once again, because of His love, He gently turns me around, points me back toward the cross His Son’s nail-scarred hands and says, “You don’t have to be perfect, little one, you just have to accept My love.”
This Easter I want to share that gift with you my Friends. What God was willing to do for me, He also did for you. If you were the only person on the Earth, He still would have subjected His Only Son to death on the cross in order that you might live for eternity in His love. The love He paid such a high price for (but would do again) has more benefits than just the ultimate one (spending Eternity with Him). It helps me to forgive myself more easily when I do mess up (and I will) and draw closer to Him rather than turn away. Accepting His grace and love when I mess up allows me in turn to show grace and love to others when they aren’t perfect as well.
Being an example to my children of the grace and love that are so intertwined in God’s plan for His people is a gift I want to freely give. Then we can extend that to extended family members, friends, the community, and beyond. Imagine a world where grace and love flowed freely. I pray that I have started to do my part to make that a reality in the part of the Country God has blessed me to live in.
Copyright: 2013 Cheri Swalwell