Today, as I was reading my One Year Bible, I remembered something that I used to think about God. Most of you reading this have probably read my testimony- if not, please feel free to go and do so. I was raised Catholic, my mother wanted my sister and I to have a religion. And we did, we had religion- but what we were lacking was a relationship. You see, religion to me is a fear of God in an ungodly way. Religion is saying that you have to “do” to go to heaven, but that is not what God wants from us. No, He desires and wants a relationship. That was hard for me to accept and to live. A lot of it was because of what I knew of God from being raised Catholic. Relationships are based off of what we know of the other person- based off their character and yours. How you respond to one another depends on what kind of relationship you will have. It will be either good or bad.
For what seemed like a very long time after I became a Christian, this whole having a relationship was a struggle. It was not until a very wise woman said, “we often think of God as we do our earthly fathers, but God is perfect, and not like our earthly fathers.” It took me a while longer to understand what she was saying, but what I realized is that the reason I was struggling in my relationship with God was because I did not have a good relationship with my earthly father. Don’t misunderstand me, my mom and dad did the absolute best that they could. Did they make mistakes? Who doesn’t? Did my dad lose his temper a lot and I get the brunt of it- yes, more times than I want to think about. But did it mean that he didn’t love me? No, it just meant that he didn’t know how to love me.
I thought I had to earn love. I thought that if I was a “good girl” than the Lord would love me more. But that is not how the Lord loves. No, He loves you in spite of who you are, or what you do. It is hard to understand what true love is if you have never experienced it, or never seen it. And unfortunately, we live in a society that thinks love is something you “do” rather than something you give. There are various ways to love- but the way I want you to see today is called Agape Love. It is a love without strings attached, a love without conditions, a love that is freely given and never asks for it back. It is the love of your Father in heaven, Who loves you unconditionally, and completely. It is a perfect love that will last forever. It does not die, it does not leave, it does not hurt you or abuse you- no, it is the exact opposite. Let me explain to you how I came to break free of this misunderstanding about love.
You see, when I would pray to the Lord after I became a Christian, I always thought that He was looking down on me with disappointment, or even at times, anger. That was how I was raised as a child, being brought up in a religion. God was disappointed in the things I did and the things I said, He was angry because I sinned and now I needed to go and do a penance. But then I got to know my God, my Father in Heaven and I realized that He is not disappointed in me, in fact, I am the apple of His eye. Not only does He look upon me with love, but also with great joy! I love my dad, but great joy was not something I ever saw coming from him towards me.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The first time I ever read that verse, I was a little more than confused. How could God look upon me and think about me? I mean, I was not a loving or good person at all. I was a drug addict, an alcoholic, a sinner, just to name a few things. But you see, God my Father didn’t see that- no, what He saw was the blood of Jesus Christ washing me and making me new. I had to let go of everything I understood about love and begin to learn all over again.
We live in a fallen and sinful world. Human love is tainted with pride, selfish gain, and ungodliness. But the love of God, the love that God your Father has for you is pure and true and right and just. He does not look upon you in disappointment- in fact it is the exact opposite. When you give your life to Jesus Christ, your Father in heaven looks upon you as His perfect and beautiful child, Whom He loves with His whole being. His love for you is never ending, even to the depths of darkness, His love will follow you. He is so excited to call you His that He and the angels take great joy in your salvation. Isaiah tells us in 62:4, “You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, (means- My delight is in her) ……; For the LORD delights in you, ….” The Lord your God is looking down on you today and saying, “Child, I am not angry with you, I am not disappointed in you- I love you so much that I died for you.”
I would love to sit here and tell you that you will be able to know and understand the depth of God’s love for you, but it is beyond what our human minds can fathom. But for some reason, for some woman out there reading this today, your heavenly Father is asking you to come back to Him. Stop running from Him, stop trying to “do” and begin to let go. He doesn’t want your religion; He desires and longs for your relationship. All He is asking is that you let go of your past knowledge of love and lay your life at His feet, at the foot of His cross and let Him show you and teach you what true, pure love is. Will you let Him? If so, please go be somewhere alone with Him today- even if it is in your bathroom, just go-lift your hands to Him and say, “Father in Heaven, I come before you- I ask that You show me Your love, Jesus come into my heart and wash me with the blood of Your sacrifice. Lord God, I want a relationship with You, and You alone. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
That is all it takes to come back to the Lord your God, your Father, your Savior, your King, your God. If you take one step towards Him, He will come running to meet you. I know because that is what He did for me. I was scared, because I did not know what was going to happen. But I bought a book about the promises of God and I began to see that His love for me is good; He promises that it will be good. And today, I stand before you all and proclaim with as loud a voice as I can that Love is and always will be found in God my Father and in Him only shall I ever seek it. Even my husband cannot love me the way my Father in Heaven loves me, the way my Savior, my Lord, My king loves me. My religion is no longer based on what I do, but my Relationship is based solely on His love for me.
It is hard to let go, ladies, I know, trust me, I know. But when we do let go and we let Him into our hearts and our lives, we begin to heal and to experience true and everlasting love. I am sure you have heard this saying before, but I am going to end with it and pray that the woman this devotion is intended for will say it and begin to live it. “Let go and Let God.”