As we sat enjoying fellowship and a beautiful evening, Gracie leaned over to her grandfather and whispered: “Did you know God loves you?” His smile affirmed her. “Yes, I know God loves me. You know how I know he loves me? Because; I have you, and your mommy and your daddy and my home. All these wonderful things I have in my life are how I know God loves me.” I think that was one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever witnessed: the unabashed faith of a child colliding with the mature wisdom of an elder generation giving praise to God from whom all blessings flow. It gave me pause to look at the world around me for a long still moment…
I’m stunned by the blessings that abound in my life. A blessing is defined as an “undeserved gift.” There is no doubt in my mind that I do not deserve the abundance that the Lord has showered over me. I have a roof over my head and have never wondered where my next meal was coming from. But more than the basic physical needs I’ve been blessed with, I also have a husband who loves me and would literally give up his life for me. I have a beautiful daughter whom the Lord has gifted with the spiritual fruit of joy. I live in a beautifully renovated old farm house at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains that boasts pristine sunsets reminiscent of paintings by the great Renaissance artists. But is this how I know God loves me? The answer is: Yes… and No….
As I survey all the blessings the Lord has poured over my life there is no doubt I feel His love showered through them. But is this really how I know he loves me? What about the daughters who are sold into sexual slavery by their own fathers— and never have a chance to come anywhere close to the “blessings” that I have? Does God not love them? Furthermore, I have to face the reality that life is fragile. There’s no doubt that the Lord could see fit to take away everything I count as a blessing in a single stroke. If catastrophe struck and I lost my husband, my daughter, my own parents, my home, my job, my life savings — any one of those things, or all of them at once— Does that mean God no longer loves me? Maybe on the surface that seems logical, but if I dig deeper I can see there are plenty of people in the world who are much better people than I am, but not nearly as blessed— does God love them less? And there are plenty of people in the world who are not good people at all and they are blessed with far more— does that mean God loves them more???
God’s word says that “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”(Matthew 5:45) In Biblical times the “sun” and the “rains” falling were a blessing to the people because these ensured a good harvest which would mean life, wealth and security for the family. God lets the blessings pour down regardless of a person’s good or ill “performance.” I don’t think we can say that we KNOW God’s love because of the blessings or lack thereof in our lives. The things I have in my life might help point me to the One True God and His grace (“for every good and perfect gift is from above” – James 1:17) but these are not how I truly deeply KNOW that God loves me. So how do I know God loves me?
Here is an illustration for how I know. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:25 for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave up his life for her. What does that mean? It means that both figuratively (in selflessness) and literally (in physical being) that husbands should be willing to give up their “life” (in other words DIE) for their wives. That is how I know Doug loves me. I have no doubt of his willingness to give up his physical life for me, because I have watched on more than one occasion as he has put himself between violent bullies and the weak. He once stood between a woman who was being beaten and threatened by a man in a sandwich shop. He protected her while awaiting the aid of the police. If my husband is willing to do that for a complete stranger, I know He will do it for me whom he adores. He would die for me physically if he had to, and I watch him die daily to his own selfish desires in order to put me first. Now, I have two ways I can respond to that knowledge. I can take advantage of it and use my husband and his love to get what “I want” OR I can be so utterly moved by his love that it produces in me a willingness to submit “my life” to him. I choose the latter. Why? Because I know I can trust my “life” and giving up my “self” to a man who is willing to die for me. Now I ask you this question… if I know my husband’s love in this way, how much more so should that be true of a God who is willing to give up His life for me?
Jesus said “No greater love has a man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) This is how I can utterly know that God loves me regardless of the blessings (or lack thereof) in my life— because Jesus gave up His life for me— willingly. He died in my place. He died to save me. He also suffers with us. He was “sold” for 30 pieces of silver, betrayed by one He loved, just like the daughter who was sold by her own father. He was beaten and abandoned. He lost every blessing. He lost the voice of the Father who speaks life to all things and cried out “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” That is how I know He loves me and the girl sold into sexual slavery who will never come close to having the “blessings” that I have. He suffered and died for us both. He suffered for me and He suffered with her. On the cross he bore all the judgment we deserve AND all the pain and suffering we have ever experienced. He laid down his life. That is the only true way to know God loves me— by his willingness to die for me and suffer with me. I can respond to that in two ways. I can take advantage of it and try to “use” God to satisfy what “I want.” Or I can be so moved by that love that it produces in me a willingness to submit my life to Him. I choose the latter. Why? I know I can trust giving my life over to a God who is willing to give His life up for me— the ultimate act of selflessness. If I truly believe that it will produce a selfless spirit in me and instead of twittering with the trivial, I will dig my hands into the mess of the unblessed to be a blessing for them. And I can whisper these words of truth into their ears… Did you know God loves you?
If you would like to know how you can specifically become a blessing for girls who have been rescued from human trafficking please consider the work of Compassion First. This link will connect you with their Ministry. The Director Mike Mercer is a favorite Brother-in-Christ to both Doug and I.