God loves each of us,
as if there were only one of us.
Lately I’ve been haunted by this question from Jesus in the gospels: “Do you love me?” At the time, Jesus was speaking to Peter. Jesus had already died a horrific death and come back to life. Jesus was appearing to his disciples along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He gave them the greatest fishing tip in the history of humankind “Try the other side of the boat!” And they do it- and they almost break their net the fish are so numerous. And then Jesus, being the Son of God, made them breakfast. And over breakfast, with a fire probably crackling at their feet, their bellies full of fresh cooked fish and bread, turns to Peter and asked the fateful question: “Do you love me?”
For Jesus, He didn’t couch the question with first declaring His own love for the disciples. They already knew He loved them. They saw Him wash their feet. They saw Him hanging on a cross. They saw Him come alive and serve them breakfast. They saw the look of love on His face. Once they knew of Jesus love for them, their identity as beloved was forged. Nothing could shake their knowledge that Jesus loved them.
I’ve been thinking of God’s love lately. Heather asked me the other day, “What are your favorite verses on God’s love?” And I’m embarrassed to say this, but my mind went blank________________________________. God’s love? Hmm….let me think about that. I can tell you all about sin and the wages and the death that resulted from Romans 1/3/6. I can tell you my personal favorite anchor verse from James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” I can remind you from Genesis we’re made in the image of God, I can quote you pithy thoughts of wisdom from Proverbs and remind you of Moses and the great journey of Israel in Exodus. There are of course the love verses from 1 Corinthians (“Love is patient and kind”) and 1 John (“we love because God first loved us”) but these mostly remind me of wedding ceremonies. What verses remind me daily of God’s love? Of His unconditional embrace? Of His absolute delight in me?
How do I remember that no matter what I do, God already loves me? How do I remind myself when I so easily forget that before anything else, I am already God’s beloved son? Hmmm. Truth is, I need more reminders that God loves me. I need to write those verses on cards and stare at them each day.
Lately my oldest daughter’s nightly prayers have turned towards forgiveness. She prays for her to be forgiven of all the bad things she has done. Every-single-night. After she prays, I then pray for her- out loud- “God, may my daughter know every night that you love her. That You accept her. That she is so good in Your eyes.” And then I remind my daughter- God’s love is like my love- only way, way better. I want my kids to KNOW they are loved by God and loved by their dad. I think on my spiritual pursuits and often I’m running/clinging/pursuing Jesus and working so hard to do the things that I know God wants me to be about. But what about my heart?
I was talking with a friend at church last month and he told me that he was struggling. “What’s up?” I asked.
“I’m not sure why, but my heart isn’t feeling God at all. Its all numb and void.”
I ran into this same guy Sunday after the church service. “God answered my prayers!” he said. “I’m feeling God’s love again.”
“Wow, that’s great,” I said. “That means He’s answered my prayers too. I’ve been praying for your heart.”
The truth is, we all need to reminded that God loves us. Love does. Love is. Love wins. We are good in God’s eyes. We are loved. Not because we do for others. But because He first loved us.
Here are some great reminders this week that YOU are loved by God Himself.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
– 1 John 4:10-12
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
– Ephesians 2:4-5
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
– Zephaniah 3:17
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
– 1 John 4:7-8
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
“ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
-1 Peter 5:6-7
May you feel the weight of God’s love today. It covers you. Before you’ve done a single thing. God loves you. Period. What reminds you of God’s great love?