Faith, Uncategorized

An Adventure of Understanding God’s Love

My dad and stepmom were getting ready to leave for a trip, so I phoned them the night before to hear how things were coming together, to bless their time away, and remind them of my love for them. It was a good chat. Near the end of the conversation, my dad paused in contemplative silence for a moment then said, “I love you very much… Do you know how much I love you? …I love you so so much.” Tears filled my eyes. My heart hadn’t known how much I needed to hear those genuine words.

It’s easy to say, “I love you,” without putting much thought to it. It’s something one might be prone to say when leaving a family member or friend’s presence, when someone says or does something thoughtful, or is grieving. Love can easily be taken for granted. It also changes as the relationship develops from frequent moments of elation and romance to a deep, steady reality. Hardship can reveal those deeper layers of love when sacrifice and support are given to help guide you through the difficult circumstances.

To be honest, love is something I’ve struggled to fully understand in an experiential way for years. Perhaps the thick layers of shame I had allowed to control me for years had numbed me from love’s full expression. Though I genuinely love many people, I usually don’t have a heart stirring sensation/emotion in it. It’s just a deep appreciation for who they are and the blessing they’ve been. This has translated to my love for God as well.

Through the lens of shame, I had often viewed God from a disciplinary (in more of a punishing sense) Father rather than a loving Father/coach mindset. Though I could understand His love and grace for others, I had a hard time believing it for myself. He showed me evidence of His love throughout all of Scripture, not just the New Testament. He even expressed it in my own life, but until I was willing to let go of shame, I couldn’t begin to marvel at the depth of His love in an experiential way. Patiently and graciously, He’s helping me move from more of a head knowledge into a deeper level of heart knowledge as well. He’s taught me that I need to comprehend God’s love while deepening my understanding of His truth. They go hand-in-hand.

Throughout much of last year, there was a specific request I kept lifting to the Lord as I knew I needed a change of heart. I said, “LORD, help me to experience more of Your Love so that I can love You and others better.” In April of this year, a friend asked me to join a group who were working through “Draw the Circle: 40 Day Prayer Challenge,” by Mark Batterson. It was an incredible experience! Even the introduction gripped my heart. In the intro, Mark shared the story of Rodney “Gypsy” Smith who was an evangelist in the late 1800’s. He said, “Gypsy was powerfully used by God. Everywhere he went, it seemed like revival was right on his heels. But it wasn’t the preaching that brought revival. It never is. Preaching may move the hearts of men, but praying moves the heart of God And that’s where revival comes from.”

When Rodney Smith was asked his secret by a group looking to start revivals in other areas, he gave them this advice,

“Go home. Lock yourself in your room. Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself. There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle.”

When I read those words, they became the cry of my heart, “Lord, start a revival in me!” This was a reminder of a prayer I had given in another season after hearing the powerful connection between John Wesley and Billy Graham (look it up sometime!). This prayer had revealed what the Lord had already begun to make aware to me – Like the church of Ephesus, I had a lot of knowledge but was beginning to lose the love for my First Love, and I wanted it back! I wanted a renewed love for Christ and childlike faith, alongside the thirst for more of His wisdom and knowledge. I wanted a renewed urgency and passion for the gospel. I deeply desire to get to the level with Christ that He would become my husband and I would embrace Him as His bride, as He deserves. This world and its temporary illusions of security have nothing to offer – no eternal hope, no lasting love or security, no joy or peace. All of these are offered in a consistent, abundant manner from my Saviour and King! The Only Living, Active, Sovereign God!

This led me to begin reading through the Bible again, this time from the perspective of prayer. Perhaps I could learn to be more strategic and tactical with my prayers as the request for the Lord to start a revival in me has grown to starting that revival in my husband and the team I’m privileged to strive alongside in this ministry. It’s not that they aren’t doing it, but that I just want more for them, and for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the world!

As I began this study in prayer, God went to the source behind that desire for prayer to the request I frequently lifted up countless times last year – “Lord, help me experience more of Your Love, so I can love You and love others better.” He began to reveal to me His love for people, and it’s set me on an adventure in my morning times with Him that I am now excited to share with you as long as He directs me. Though Christ is King was the theme of this year’s faith blog posts, it is going to be from the expression of His love and the power of communication we have with Him because ultimately, we need to understand those two things first before we can understand how to see Him as our King and Commander. It is by His love and truth infiltrating our lives of faith that cause us to want to become dependent on Him and be of service for/to Him.

Because of God’s work in my heart to begin to understand His love for me, I was also able to genuinely accept my earthly father’s words of love for me, and it felt good. Are you in need of God’s love? Has life tossed you around and the battles for identity, relevant truth, and confusion of security in anything left you a bit callous? Are you ready to break down the walls of apathy and shame, and grow deeper in intimacy with Jesus? I hope you’ll join me on this exciting adventure of exploring God’s love for us and the power of communication with Him through the pages of Genesis and possibly beyond. I pray the Lord illuminates His Love and Truth to you in a special way as He did with me.

PS – As you may have noticed, our presence has been a little spotty on here the last few months. We’re working at switching a few things up, developing some areas, bringing in a new one, and saying goodbye to another in order to hone in on the mission and vision of Hope Through Hard Times. We look forward to sharing more with you next week, so stay tuned!

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