Originally published Saturday, 14 March 2015.
Every time my son does something bad, he looks up at me with fear-filled eyes and asks, "Do you still love me?" He asks it over and over again - as if every bit of who he is depends the response.
In those little fear-filled, tear-filled eyes, I know he's asking:
Am I am enough?
Do you still want me? Care about me?
Have I pushed you over the edge? Over the point of no return?
In his pleading, he's asking if everything has changed.
Wondering if he has finally crossed the threshold of abandonment.
Pondering if he is worthy of my love. My care. My heart.
Deciding if he is good enough as he is.
He is begging to be accepted.
And, how often am I am just like my little son?
How often do I look up at God with pleading puppy dog eyes and ask, "God, do you still love me?"
It's on days when I mess up. When I fall down. When I scrape a knee. It's on these days where I wonder if God still sees me, still loves me and still wants me.
It's on these days where I feel unworthy, unlovable and undeserving. It's on these days where I think God is disappointed.
Because, really, who wants to be around someone who is always offending? Always a mess up? A consistent failure?
People tend to run from these type of people.
I understand my son - and his questions.
We can't get things right.
We drop the ball.
But, is God really a "Love me, love me not" type of God? And, can he really ever stop loving us?
Because it is by grace that we have been saved. It's through faith and not by our own works. It is a gift. An undeserved, non-reciprocal and free gift. (Eph. 2:8).
So if it really is a gift - from him -
then why am I always trying to wrap up my own gifts - for him?
Why am I so often the powered gifter, instead of the humbled receiver?
In this, I miss the gift. I miss the heart. I miss the grace. I miss his power.
I miss the point - and, as a result, I feel distanced from God. Apart from his love. Deprived of his grace. I look up at him and plead, because I know I am not good enough and never can be.
I have made it all about me.
If I do well, like a balloon, I inflate with pride. If I don't, I deflate with self-condemnation. Either way, I stand ready to lose all my air, all my reliance on him and all my ability to fly to new heights. It's a no win. And, perhaps this is why God did not base faith on works.
Yes, God calls us to love him and obey him. But, even more, he calls us to live covered by his blood and by his free gift of grace. Because, it's here that we can truly love God and love others.
The wages of our sin is death; but the wages of his death is freedom.
Freedom in a love that is permanent.
Freedom in a death that secures.
Freedom in a life that makes us worthy.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
So, the next time I look up to God, ready to ask, do you still love me, I will remember:
Christ's love never ends.
His love never failed - or will fail.
His love makes me worthy.
His grace makes me whole.
The Spirit comforts me.
Not based on my output, but based on his indwelling.
I am secure.
It's all given to me, by the one who can never stop loving me. He gives it to you too. Like a locket that holds an image of a loved one, will you choose to receive - and lock his image? Will you choose to remember that this necklace is engraved around your heart? Locked in your soul? It's love is always held within. Will you choose remember this image of unchanging love, unmerited grace and unbelievable power?
No matter how you may feel, Christ is right there, with you in your moment, loving your soul beyond any embrace you could ever fathom.