“My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” I John 4:11-12 (The Message)
Last time we were together I shared how God invited me on a journey last year to discover just how much He loves me. While struggling with a choice I had to make, second guessing that I’d heard God correctly, He gave me a song on the radio that showed me just how far in the journey I’ve traveled in the past year. Where I thought there had been no progress, God showed me how He’s been working.
In the past, when given the exact same scenario, I would have let “stinkin thinkin” ruin weeks of my life. I would have replayed conversations, embellishing them in my mind, until I blew things out of proportion. I would have thought to talk to God about things only after consulting every friend and acquaintance and yes, even stranger I could find to justify my choice. I would’ve been racked with guilt and let it negatively affect my marriage, my parenting and spiraled into more emotional eating that would’ve taken more weeks to dig out of.
While I did consult a few godly people to make sure I wasn’t being selfish but was indeed obeying God, I mostly took my feelings to God and poured them out to Him. And He rewarded that with assuring me through the song above, His Word and other sources that I was indeed pleasing to Him. I hadn’t handled the scenario perfectly, but He reminded me He doesn’t ask me to be perfect. He just wanted me to choose to obey Him, to trust Him because I loved Him and that was what I was doing. Imperfectly, but choosing nevertheless.
That alone would’ve been enough, but we’re talking about the God of the Universe here. In Proverbs 16:20 (NIV), God tells us that He blesses those who obey Him. When we choose to obey because we love Him, that releases God’s blessings in our lives. I was happy to receive the blessing of peace, which God gave to me much faster than I’ve had in years past when I did things with the wrong heart attitude. However, God took the blessings a step further.
Our family has wanted to get tickets to see a specific Christian artist for over a year now. It happens to be one of our son’s favorite artists and up until now, it just wasn’t the right timing. Less than a week after the above scenario, my husband saw on Facebook a free concert of this particular artist at a time and on a day when we could go. Not just any concert either – an acoustic, “intimate and personal concert” where it feels like you are one on one with the artist.
I felt like God spoke directly to me at that point, saying, “I never asked you to be perfect. I don’t want you perfect in the world’s eyes, Cheri. I just want all of your heart and for you to know that you are loved. I love you unconditionally. You are accepted. You are treasured. And you are Mine.”
I’m still on the journey. I’m happy to say not only am I loving the journey of getting to know God deeper, but it will take a lifetime and beyond to truly understand just how much He loves me.
Do you know what’s even better? God doesn’t play favorites. He loves you just as much as He loves me. He doesn’t want you perfect either. He just wants your whole heart. Watch and see what happens when you choose to give it to Him.
© Cheri Swalwell 2016