Hello! Here is this week’s Living Water. Tonight on Walk With Me (Wed. 8pm www.yfnradio.com; www.christopherbwolf.com) so often we feel like we can’t put the pieces back together and feel overwhelmed. Well, God is all about wholeness and restoration – we’re going to talk about accessing this in all parts of our lives – spiritual, physical, relational and more. Please listen and tell others. Insightful. Inspiring. Authentic. Live. Walk With Me…Peace, Christopher
“Big Nutbrown Hare had even longer arms. But I love you this much,” he said. Hmm, that is a lot thought Little Nutbrown Hare.” This is just one of the wonderful exchanges in the children’s book, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. I highly recommend it although you will not find the audio version of my daughter Madelyn reading it – that’s just for me
But as Big Nutbrown Hare stretches out his arms to show how much he loves Little Nutbrown Hare, it reminded me of someone else who stretched out his arms to demonstrate his love for all of us, for the whole world. That’s right, Jesus.
I’ve done a lot of listening and one thing that comes up consistently is doubt about God’s love. Let’s face it, we often have trouble believing that people around us love us, so to then leap to believing that someone we can’t see loves us is often very challenging.
Which is why I want to ask you today, “Guess how much God loves you?” Let me show you…
One verse that always comes to mind, it’s a refrigerator verse is from Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love…” or as The Message puts it, “God told them, “I never quit loving you and never will.” Now in order to appreciate these wonderful words from God, you have to know that they are spoken after God’s people had dishonored, disobeyed, and ignored him. And just when it seemed like God had completely given up on them by allowing them to be exiled from their promised land, God through Jeremiah, renews his promises of love for them. Later in the chapter, God goes even further and says, “I will be their God and they will be my people…I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” After everything, God was going to forgive and forget. When God forgets, it’s completely gone – as far as the east is from west as it says in Psalm 103.
Sounds crazy, right. I mean, I thought God only loves us when we are good and perfect, right?
Sadly, many view and experience love as conditional. As humans, we often tend to use or experience love as a reward, as something to manipulate or control others with, only given to those who “deserve” it and something that brings pain and disappointment. And then we often transfer all this into thinking that God’s love is like that too. I am very sorry for that. It’s not at all what God intended.
No, what God intended was that His relentless, unending love can reach, warm and transform the hardest, saddest, coldest hearts in this world. Even hearts that continue to reject, hide from, avoid, insult, and even hate God.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” Jesus said about himself and about God’s love. That’s God’s response to the world that rejects and doesn’t know him. How can we not be moved by this kind of love? Do you and I know anyone else who keeps loving in the face of insult, rejection, turning away, anger, hatred? No we don’t. But He’s still there loving us. And not just loving us by sending a Hallmark card. He sends and sacrifices His best, Jesus.
And, this love of God doesn’t wait for us to be good or get better. It reaches us, it touches wherever it finds us – at our best or at our worst. It’s the very definition of unconditional love.
It’s the kind of love that frees and rescues.
It’s the kind of love that heals and awakens.
It’s the kind of love that lifts us to want to try again.
It’s the kind of love that leads us to want to come home.
It’s the kind of love that eclipses our past.
It’s the kind of love that opens our eyes to seeing who we really are – in God’s eyes.
It’s the kind of love that assures us that when all else fails; it never will…
Yes, God loves you and me this much…arms outstretched; pouring over and through all the walls, sins and hurts; overflowing into the very depths our hearts and souls.
Rev. Christopher B. Wolf
Christopher B. Wolf is pastor of First Reformed Church of Saddle Brook and is the author of Giving Faith a Second Chance: Restarts, Mulligans and Do-Overs (2007) and With You Every Step of the Way; and the host of Walk With Me, Wednesdays 8 pm on WYFN 94.9 FM-NY and on www.yfnradio.com.
“It is a matter of sharing and bearing the pain and puzzlement of the world so that the crucified love of God in Christ may be brought to bear healingly upon the world at exactly that point.