O How He Loves Me (& You)

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Psalms 91:4 NIV

Yesterday I came home to a package in my mailbox from a darling friend I met almost 20 years ago when I lived in another state.  She was actually one of the first friends I made in that state and one of the few I’ve been able to keep even after I moved back home.  Throughout the years God used her to be a tool of encouragement for me, to be His voice when I needed accountability and to know just how much He truly loves me.

This friend’s love language is definitely the gift of giving.  At least 2-3 times a year I receive a surprise in the mail from her; a Power of the Praying Woman bible, a handful of devotional books,  a bracelet with a crown on it reminding me that I am royalty because I am a daughter of the King, even a mouse pad with a picture of my children when they were just a toddler and infant (of which I still use everyday at work.)  She’s definitely a giver, and she never expects anything in return.  The best gift I can give her is quality time by means of a scheduled phone call (because our lives are so busy if we didn’t make phone “dates” we’d never stay in touch) that entails me mostly talking about myself (because she just enjoys listening and encouraging and sincerely wants to know how she can pray for me.)  She’s even taught her son, whom I’ve never been able to meet face-to-face, but is the same age as my son, to pray for me and my children.  It’s endearing to know there’s a child out there praying for us simply because his mom loves us and treasures the friendship she and I share.  Other than my time and my friendship, this amazing woman wants nothing else from me but to see me be the woman God made me to be.

She’s the epitome of Christ-He too, is a friend who’s love language is giving.  He loved us so much He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16.)  He sacrificed His Beloved for our salvation.  Matthew 7:11 tells us;  “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (NLT).”  He gifts us with the beauty of His creation, with breath everyday we open our eyes, and with an unconditional love that is almost incomprehensible.  He shows His love through unexpected blessings and the gift of godly friendships.

What does He want in return-our commitment to spend quality time with Him.  Just like a friend who lives in another state or even another country, in order to keep a strong relationship with Christ, we need to schedule daily time with Him, time in His Word, time in conversational prayer with Him and time to be still, listening for His guiding voice.  God wants to be up close and personal with you and me each every day.  He desires that we give Him the first moments of our day.  But He waits for us to come to Him.  He longs to hear us talk to Him like we talk to the humans we love dearly.  We can tell Him about our day even though He knew about it before it occurred.  We can express our fears, our worries, our deepest angst to Him and He will listen.  In fact, He will do more than listen. If we surrender to Him, He promises to deliver us from everything that holds us back from His best for our lives.  Did you catch that last sentence?  God is our Best Friend, because He longs to give us His best and His best is better than anything we could gain on our own.

If you’re reading this, I hope this encourages you to make Christ your best friend.  Schedule time everyday to be with Him.  Become so familiar with talking to Him, that like me, you have a conversation with Him aloud in your morning commute to work not worrying about what you look like when a passerby sees you and thinks you’re talking to yourself.

God showed His love for me yesterday through my friend’s gift.  It was a necklace with a feather charm (pictured above) and Psalm 91:4 written on a card.  He knew I would open the package in my car at the exact time Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father was playing on the radio.  Tears flowed into sobs as I read the words of Psalms 91:4, the words my darling friend wrote in a note card and listened to these lyrics while also staring in awe at the gorgeous necklace laying in my hands;

“You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

“Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think

“As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

“You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am…”

He is perfect in all of His ways and He loves us-undeniably.

It’s Just a Little Crush…

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.  Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.”

Song of Solomon 8:6-7NLT

Oh my goodness!  Did you see his smile?  How cute was he?  Do you think he noticed me?  Oh my gosh!  He’s coming over here…don’t act nervous, don’t say the wrong thing…he asked me for my phone number!  Now I wait for his call….

He called…we’re going out.  Could he be “the one?”  He’s so cute…he’s so nice.  Lord, I pray he’s the one…

The date was awesome and Lord-when can I kiss him again?  He’s definitely “the one.”  Lord, please make it happen in Your time and in Your will…

I don’t understand.  Why did he dump me?  What’s wrong with me?  How could he take my love for so many years and then just throw it away in a text message?  My heart is broken.  I’ll never love again…

That guy is cute…is he single…does he notice me…

A vicious cycle a woman endures when she makes the idea of love, men and being in a relationship the god of her life.  I have been that woman.  I meet someone, fall head over heels in love and get my heart broken-repeatedly.  The heartache made me bitter, skeptical and if you ask my family and closest friends, they’d say “closed off to dating” at this point.

Don’t get me wrong, I made my fair share of mistakes in past relationships.  But I also loved each one with all my being.  I talked about them to all of my friends, spent as much time with them as I could, fought hard to hold on to the relationship and in the end lost a few men who never really loved me.  Worst, I lost a piece of me each time.  The biggest mistake I made was worshiping them, putting them first in my life-even above God.

Putting others before God, no matter who it is, is a form of idolatry.  Yes, God calls us to love one another, but He also says, “You must have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)  He repeatedly warns us that He is a very jealous God.  Deuteronomy 4:24 tells us, “The Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” God is so serious about not wanting us to worship other people that he compares Himself to a consuming fire.  His jealousy for us should devour every part of us to the point that we have no desire to worship anyone or anything else.

God put Song of Solomon 8 on my heart this past week.  He’s been tugging at my heart about idolatry and worshiping people.  When I read verses 6 and 7, the hopeful romantic in me dreamed of a love like Solomon and his wife-a human kind of love, in fact, an Eros kind of love.

Then I re-read this passage and God opened my eyes to see that THIS is how God wants me and all of us to love Him.  When I have a crush, he’s all I talk about, all I think about.  I count down the days until I can see him or talk to him.  With God, I take time spent with Him for granted.  There are days I choose to sleep in rather than read His word and I rarely stop talking in my prayers to listen to His voice.  Sometimes I’m embarrassed to talk about Him with other people.  Yet God, in His patient grace and mercy still seeks me and pursues me daily.  He has me tattooed on His heart, so why don’t I have Him tattooed on mine?  He longs for me (and you) to place Him like a seal over our entire beings.  He showed the strength of His love by dying on the cross for us and conquering death for us.  If His jealousy is a consuming fire, think how more consuming His love for us is.

God’s love cannot be quenched by water or anything else.  Paul tells us in Romans 8, “…that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (verses 38 and 39, NLT) David repeatedly reminds us in Psalms that God’s love is never ending.  And just like we couldn’t do anything to earn our salvation, we can do nothing to buy God’s love.

This week, God has been asking me, “Why am I not your crush?  Why don’t you talk about me the way you’ve talked about those men of your past?  They shattered your heart but I would never leave you wounded, broken or questioning your self-worth.  To Me, you are far greater than rubies.  To me my darling, you surpass them all.”  I had no answer for Him, only conviction in my heart and a realization of the form of idolatry I’ve practiced for far too long.

God wants to be first in my life and yours.  No matter if you’re married, single, divorced, or widowed, God wants to be first-above your spouse, significant other, even before our children.  God first, other second, ourselves third…that’s the order I was taught at a very young age yet fail to practice.  I pray this post opens up every reader’s eyes to examine where God is ranked in their life and to see if there is anyone or anything they are putting in place of God.  If you find something, confess it and know that He forgives.  Don’t shame yourself or allow the enemy to fill you with guilt.  Remember, nothing we do can stop God from loving us.  Let’s all choose to love God like the love described in Song of Solomon 8-like a consuming fire with the brightest flames.  And let’s talk about how awesome He is to everyone we meet like we would if we all had “just a little crush”.