I can vividly remember the pages in my childhood Sunday School books and bibles. There were pictures of Jesus, arms outstretched, beckoning the little children to come to Him. A warm sunny halo surrounded Him and there was a tender, welcoming smile on His face. I felt like Jesus really loved me. I could sing these words and mean it:
Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.
But God loving me? That was a different story. In this triune Godhead, I could relate to God the Son (God made man), but God the Father intimidated me. I viewed God as this mighty, powerful, omniscient, authority figure who, quite frankly, always sat in judgment and scared me more than a little bit.
I was in awe of His Creation, but from early on when He caught Adam and Eve in their sin in the Garden, to wanting to destroy everything He had made in the great flood, to causing a long list of plagues, I wasn't so certain that I could cozy up to God. More than anything, I think I feared Him. I was certain that He was disappointed in me...all the times I'd failed.
For many years, God was just kind of there, on a shelf, in the bookcase of my life. That was until I found myself face down sobbing in my pillow and writhing with anxiety and depression.
Deep down, I was mad at God. I wanted my first baby so desperately, but I couldn’t enjoy her. Anxiety, along with fear, worry, and depression had a stranglehold on me. The family doctor said it was most likely post-partum depression and, given time, it would pass. It didn’t.
I could call out to Jesus, but I couldn't bring myself to call out to God. God still remained this aloof, judgmental father figure that I just couldn't relate to. More than anything I needed to know that He loved me. I needed Him to wipe the guilt and shame from my life. I needed to know He wasn't disappointed in me. I needed the assurance of His love.
I had tried to get to know God in my own power, in my own way. I went to church. I worshiped Him. I sang about Him. I studied Him. I served Him, but I don't think I loved Him and I wasn't sure if He really loved me and I desperately needed to know that He did.
That's when I heard God speak. Not audibly, but a voice rose up in my heart and, with a solid nudge, urged, "Just ask."
I don't remember the exact words, but my prayer went something like this...
"Dear Heavenly Father...ummm...no...Dear God, I want to know you. I need to know you. I need to know you love me. I've tried, but I can't muster up a feeling of you loving me. I need YOU to work that TRUTH deep into my soul until I know without a doubt that your love for me is furious, tender, and unconditional. I can't do it on my own. I need YOU to do it. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."
That simple, gut-wrenching, heartfelt prayer was the catalyst that began to change my life. It wasn't instantaneous. It wasn't over night, but I know that prayer opened the door for God to do a mighty work in my life. I began to discover and live out the sole reason and purpose for God creating me...to be in relationship with Him.
Thus began a tender love story...
I learned that Asking God was not a sign of weakness, but one of strength and faith.
I had invited Jesus into my life to be my Lord and Savior some twenty years before, and now, for the first time, I was asking God in to be with me and work in me. I needed His enabling strength and power. I wanted to REALLY know Him.
"ASK" was the verb that I had been needing to employ all along.
Verses like these began to spring off the pages of the bible to me:
Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say,'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9)
I needed to stop striving, performing, attempting to earn God's love. Instead I needed, simply to abide in Him.
"Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us and through us. It is a work He does for us - the fruit and power of His redeeming love. Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform." - from Abide in Christ
It's been over twenty-five years since I called out to God and asked. He's been working the TRUTH that I am dearly loved into my life ever since. Like a baker, He's been kneading His love into the dough of my soul. It hasn't been easy. He's had to toss out a lot of guilt and shame. I've had to wrestle with doubt and disappointment. I've even cursed Him a time or two, but I have learned that my God, is the God who stays. No matter what.
The life lessons in faith have been many and the road, long. I am working on a book that highlights my journey that has brought me to, and helped me over, hurdles like: learning to see God, and His love, through Jesus; discovering the reason I was created; overcoming guilt and condemnation; living victoriously with physical and emotional suffering; surviving divorce; kicking the enemy to the curb; conquering pride, perfectionism, and people-pleasing. There is power in knowing God's great love for me - power to cast out fear. I've been learning to live with abandon and walk in freedom.
Victoriously hurdling these obstacles has always been propelled by the same word - "ASK."
I'm asking YOU, my reader, if this is a book you would want to pick up and read? It would be the antithesis to any "self-help" book since it would be a "God-help" book. Have you ever been plagued by this same question - Does God REALLY love me? Do you struggle with how to harness the power of His love? Do you long to enjoy God?
Would you like to be better able to deal with the trials and struggles in your life? What do you struggle with most? Would you like to know how you, too, can tap into God's love in order to cast out fear, transform your life, and live with abandon? I could really use your input. Would you share?
Please leave a comment or feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'd love to hear from you...be blessed...
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