My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19 MSG
The house, devoid of the 42 years of accumulated possessions, relinquished it’s treasures to a vast truck that was pulling away. Alone, inside the house, I was stuffing heavy emotions as I watched my possessions depart.
Dropping my gaze I focused on an isolated sheet of paper in the middle of the study floor. Stooping to throw it away I had a strong urge to examine the paper.
Opening the page I discovered lyrics that proclaimed hope and trust that God was near. The words stirred my sense of lostness mingled with a desire to have hope.
Clinging to these words I knew that they needed to be highlighted in my life at the moment. I stuffed the paper in my back-pack and shifted into auto mode as I locked up the house. I was good at not self-reflecting when stressed, I doggedly focused on the next task.
The next morning, with boxes and my precious dogs, I headed east on I40. Just as I took the fork in the road, marking the point of no return, I heard a surprising yet familiar lyrics from the radio (I rarely listen to the radio vs my own playlist!). It was the same song recovered from the study floor! “You (God) are with me and You won’t let go…” by Tenth Ave North.
Perfect in the timing, perfect in touching my heart as only God could. Unbelievable! With tears flowing, my heart was captivated by His love. I felt strengthened to be fearless and free as I started my new journey.
I had been packing the house, closing a counseling practice, saying goodbye to friends and preparing for the move to another state. All without the presence of my husband, who was already working his new job, highlighted the reality of my aloneness, binding my heart and soul, blinding me to my God who stayed. The burden of handling loose ends alone created a negatively biased anxious heart reacting with an unrelenting push of independence.
The song awoke my awareness giving me a corrected vision of His presence throughout my ordeal. I had never been alone, God was not hiding, perhaps I had not been fully looking.
I was not fully looking because the love of our Divine Creator is so hard to believe! A love that is with us always in spite of our betrayals of puny faith. As C. S. Lewis beautifully articulates in his book The Problem with Pain:
“…it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in their Creator’s eyes.”
Birth to the grave, humans need connection. We are hardwired to flourish emotionally and physically through healthy relationships. Creating us for relationships, our Creator will never hide from our essential sustenance for true life. Relationship with our God, the essence of unbelievable unconditional love, is always available.
“The love of God– the love of Christ — for you is so spectacular that you cannot grasp it.” source John Piper from Consider Your Calling
Hiding in Fear
Grasping the vastness of God’s loyal love is plagued with obstacles. The strongest obstacles are our own choices. The habitual coping reactions of shame, anxiety, pride, resentment, and anger, can be chosen providing short term protection for our hearts. Long term, these reactions will only protract the pain in our hearts. A pain that feeds our fears that God has left us helpless, worthless and unlovable. These are lies blinding us of the reality of the lifeline of holy connection to our Father who created us.
Seeking in Faith
The truth is, God has done all the work giving us the opportunity to have a relationship with Him. Through His love, we have access to His presence through the sacrifice of His son crucified. We can choose to be His, to be loved, made worthy and empowered by His Spirit. We must believe it.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
Why would God do this for us? We were born as we were created by love to be loved, we are made worthy through His love. Worthy to become the containers of God’s light and power (2 Corinthians 4:7). We can remain hidden or choose to open our hearts to be filled with the power of God’s love.
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19 MSG
As scripture proclaims, our human brains struggle to conceive the extravagant dimensions of this divine love. Letting that truth penetrate, will open our eyes to His continuous presence in our lives, no matter what.
Henri Nouwen wrote in his book You Are the Beloved: I am beginning to now see how radically the character of my spiritual journey will change when I no longer think of God as hiding out and making it as difficult as possible for me to find him, but, instead, as the One who is looking for me while I am doing the hiding.
Knowing the assurance that we have a God who stays, and the awareness of our fears that may be causing us to hide will heighten our spiritual journey with God giving us the clarity that will put us on a path to inner peace and profound joy.
Listen to Matthew West’s song The God Who Stays and be confident we have God’s love always.