Most Christians are intellectually aware of God’s love. They can quote the relevant scriptures. They can even expound to others on the wonders of his love. But when you ask if they emotionally live in an awareness of his affection, you may find they’re more likely to say they feel disconnected, alone and disappointing to him.
I suspect this happens because most of us have learned the world’s foremost lesson too well and too early: success in life is built on performance. Work hard in school and you’ll become something; work hard in your profession and you’ll be recognized. We carry this same mindset into our faith: study God’s word, serve in church, walk the straight and narrow path and God will be pleased.
While it’s true that behavior counts, what if good behavior is mostly based on fear – fear of disappointing others, disappointing God, disappointing ourselves? What happens when our performance is less than stellar? And what does all this effort say about the way we view our relationship with God?
One of the reasons why “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6) is because of the lessons we can derive from our children and grandchildren. My most profound spiritual teachers regarding the heart of God are my granddaughters, ages 1, 2 and 5. Even when they are most obnoxious, loud, dirty, demanding and maddening, they are utterly delightful to me. Why? I have no logical explanation except that they are my grandchildren. My love for them isn't based on their intelligence or cuteness quotient or any of their rapidly fluctuating mood states. I adore them because they were born into this family; they were given to us by God.
Given by God. Where have I heard that before?
All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. John 6:37
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. John 6:39
I have revealed you [God] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. John 17:6
How does it feel to think of yourself as a gift God has given to Jesus? Even though we might be troubled or difficult or not perform the way we should, Jesus loves the gift that we are to him. He even wants us to enter into the intimacy he shares with his Father.
I have made you [God] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. John 17:26
Recognize the truth, whether you feel it or not, that you are a much desired member of the family of God. Believe it before you see it, and one day your heart will catch up.