The devotional verse was waiting in my inbox this morning: “Lord, I praise you for your steadfast love and faithfulness. Because of your great mercy, you are not one to hold back your steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 40:11).”
As usual, I checked the verse out in The Message. “Now, God, don’t hold out on me, don’t hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me going.”
With Valentine’s Day lurking, my thoughts went to the nature of God’s love versus ours. In this life we tend to think of ourselves as the top of the heap, the epitome of all Creation. Our ideas, then, relating to love are the best. Most. Brightest. If you and I haven’t thought of it, it’s not worth considering. Right?
My habit when reading Scripture is to read in context around a particular verse. It didn’t take long doing that to be humbled. Here are verses 4-5 of that same chapter.
“Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships. The world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to You! I start talking about You, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for You.”
When it comes to loving, I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it. I’m not fickle. I like plenty of people, yet I’m stingy with my love. And the more intense is my love for another, the more stubborn I am in being true to it. It takes a lot to convince me my love’s not wanted. Eventually, though, if consistently rebuffed enough, it sinks in and I back off.
You’re probably like that, too.
God’s not. His perfect love never diminishes, not in the least. Even in the extreme case of a person telling Him, “I’m through with You, your people and your Jesus. I never want to hear of you, them or him again. You go your way and I’ll go mine.” It’s the measure of The Creator’s great love – the last, most loving example of it – that when God knows that person means it, He’ll honor that request–all the while loving that man or woman just as much as ever.
Paul’s right. You can turn your back on God’s love and sever your relationship with Him. Yank your hand out of His and walk away. But nothing you’ll ever think, do, be or say will ever separate you from His magnificent love.
An unknown writer put it this way: The best love is the one that makes you a better person, without changing you into someone other than yourself.
So if you’re hunting for a pattern of how to love in this life? God’s the best example I know.
I love you, and I believe in you.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
© D. Dean Boone, February 2017