Originally published Monday, 13 January 2014.
Each time I played the "He loves me, he loves me not" game -- I only had two options: love or hate. Either you loved me or I thought you hated me.
I recently have been devouring yet another book, He Loves Me, by Wayne Jacobsen. (Thanks Ronel Sidney for the book). I am so impressed with this simple yet profound message that Jesus loves me.
He loves me.
That is all.
I wonder how many of us are still walking the tightrope of God's love? Wayne says,
"So perhaps it's time to toss your daisies aside and discover that it is not the fear of losing God's love that will keep you on his path, but the simple joy of living in it every day.
For the first time since he walked the Garden with Adam and Eve, God was among the people the way he had always wanted to be. People with broken lives were drawn to him, not repelled. His followers were secure enough in his presence to be genuine, even when that revealed lust for power or arrogance. Now God could experience the relationship he'd always wanted with his people and through that relationship freed them from sin.
He wants to be closer than your dearest friend and more faithful than any other person you've ever known."
Isn't that what we're searching for?
Since I was a little girl I dreamed of the day I would be loved. My father's love wasn't enough. I wanted romantic love. When God didn't allow a relationship in my life to happen on my time schedule -- I questioned Jesus' love. I thought he hated me.
A hard lesson I had to learn was that God, in fact, loved me -- and not because of anything I had ever done.
I'll never forget walking the Oceanside pier one night with church friends. We were participating in a beach outreach, and giving away free hot chocolate -- no strings attached. It was so simple. Jesus loves you, here's some hot cocoa. And yet I found myself so offended.
I was angry.
If Jesus loved me, then why didn't He (fill in the blank)... That's what I believed. I struggled with the gnawing emptiness inside of me. It wasn't enough to be friends with God. I wanted a human relationship with human affection. Wayne continues,
"God feels the same way about you. He's not interested in your service or sacrifice. He only wants you to know how much you are loved, hoping that you will choose to love him in return. Understand that, and everything else about your life will fall into place; miss that, and nothing else will make any difference."
That profound revelation shook my faith. Solidified my love for Him. Jesus didn't want me to do anything for Him.
He loved me.
That was all.
I am ashamed to admit that even after learning this lesson about love, I find myself working in other areas to prove my love. To earn more (fill in the blank).
Isn't this one of the biggest lies of our culture? If you're married with children -- you must be doing something right. If you're without a spouse and/or children -- forget about it.
If I'm honest, I'm still playing the "He loves me, He loves me not" game.
Instead of love, I replace it with other concepts such as job title or my own abilities. Both of these lead back to my performance. My wrong motives.
This is the first lesson I learned in BSF that I was too chicken to share about. But because God is gracious and has been giving me the same lesson multiple times -- I knew I had to speak up! My BSF lesson said,
"Jesus' concern was and is how and why believers give, pray, fast, and do 'acts of righteousness.' To get to the root of the 'how' and 'why,' Jesus repeated the word 'reward' seven times in 18 verses. Do you believe yourself to be unmoved by thoughts of reward? Perhaps you have heard someone say reward and punishment have no place in a truly spiritual life. This is to be more spiritual than Jesus Himself.
Jesus said a desire for reward motivates every person. The reward a person seeks reveals his or her true attitude towards God. Good works done for the sake of public recognition will not be rewarded by God."
The notes continue,
"The only motive God rewards is the desire to please Him. The Pharisees sought public praise and the power over people that flowed from it. Whenever the Christian seeks only to please God -- where no one sees but God alone -- God promises His reward."
As an author who speaks and writes publicly, I am once again ashamed. I feel like this process has been so cathartic for me. I hope it has been for you as well.
When I wrote that my dream died, I didn't want to admit that the other part of me that was dying was my desire to be rewarded in public. The book I had worked so hard on and suffered through. When it was finally published I became so discouraged. Then I asked, "is this the best life can get?"
Especially because God's love is not performance based. Neither is my reward.
"To seek satisfaction through the praise of others is to lose eternal reward. In Matthew 6:19-34 Jesus warned of the danger of satisfaction and security through wealth rather than through faith."
This process hurts so much. But it's been good. I can't say how grateful I am that God has cut through the bull.... to help me see my own sin. My selfishness. God wants me to be selfless.
Whether or not God chooses to reward the works He called me to do this side of Heaven is on Him.
He should be enough because HE IS ENOUGH.
Just like that time I learned that God's love was enough when I was single.
Just like I learned that ministry was enough without a job title or steady salary.
Questions: Has God allowed you to come to the end of your efforts so you could find out how much you are loved? Is your desire for man's reward, or for God's?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24, NIV).
*Previously published on ReneeFisher.com.