At the end of that week, I realized I had been self-centered, not thinking nearly enough about how I could be God's vessel towards my friends. I was not being respectful of them, disbelieving them when they said they would "love to have me" or that I was "welcome to join them". And on top of it all, I was believing lies. They do love me, and I'm quite grateful.
Being loved when you don't deserve to be is strange. Even with God I am so often tempted to believe in His pity and mercy and goodness but not in His love. He does kind things for me because He is obligated by His goodness. He does them to astound my gratitude. Believing those half-truths, I obediently subject myself to Him. I reassure myself that what God does is good. I discipline myself to thank Him (which I don't think is entirely wrong, but I'll tell you what I love better: feeling thankful!).
Yet YHWH really loves me. One of those friends I was doubting a few weeks ago was sharing how God is teaching her about prayer, and how much He wants intimacy with us. Marriage as a picture of Christ and His Church (us!) should remind us over and over that our lives were created for love and union and a delight in Jesus. Years back I did a women's retreat where we spent large amounts of time by ourselves, praying or resting or listening to music. I remember believing then that Jesus loved me. A song came on about Jesus' wedding feast, about Him dancing with His bride, and I was so happy for His joy - a joy I could only believe in if He was getting something out of loving us - if He desired us.
Teshuva (use link to "play" at top of webpage), an awesome band from the Denver area, writes:
This is how I
Say I love you and
This is how I
Prove it to you
By my wounds you are
Healed, you're healed my child
There's only so much words can say (Only so much words can say)
This can't be said another way (This is the only way)
He has proven love, not just kindness or pity. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross.
More than trust and gratitude, my response to really believing in God's love is love. Loving and being loved brings joy. This week I've been so full of both, and for that I'm feeling grateful.
I was talking to a friend about distrusting our emotions, not letting them be any part of leading our decisions. He applied that to his walk with God, needing always a "legitimate" reason to do something, being completely skeptical of anything he felt or wanted. I think that, at least now, with his friends he does some things because they are good things and he enjoys doing them. My dear friend just got married in June. I sure hope that when she kisses her husband it's because she wants to, not because she thinks it is the wife thing to do! When I read "Love the Lord your God with all your heart..." this is something I think of. He made our hearts, gave us emotions, and He wants them to be towards Him just as much as our minds, and our souls, and our actions and words. The greatest commandment, the privilege of our lives as Christians, is to really love God.
To God be all glory.