Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Knowing Gods Love at the Very Core of your Being!

I have been pondering recently the awesome nature of God inspired by my trip to the Cornish coast as I mentioned in the article below. Dwelling on how we can be in the presence of such an all powerful and mighty God and yet feel at peace and know the unfathomable Love of our Creator. It has made me realise how poor I have always been at worshipping Him for simply the fact He is God and not for what He can do for me. We say things like 'I praise You and thank You for xxxx". Where xxxx is something God has done for us. Now there is nothing wrong with that in any way at all and we should be rightly thankful for everything God does for us from Dying on the cross to the more mundane little things. However I realised that doing that falls short somehow as first and foremost we should worship God simply because of who He is! We should rest in the awe inspiring presence of the living God not initially with a list of thanks and requests but simply to soak up His nature and that will inspire worship of the deepest kind.

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
Matthew 6 v9-10

That verse, as was recently preached so eloquently by a member of my church, teaches us to lift our eyes off ourselves and onto God in heaven. It gives us an eternal perspective to start from before talking to God about what is going on in our lives. That is what should shape a Christians thoughts. To see what happens today in light of what will happen eternally. That doesn't mean living in denial and pretending those difficult things in our lives are not real and that it doesn't matter. But it does mean that when going through painful and difficult times we have a hope, the truth of which is not affected by the world we live in or what happens to us. It enables us to face the hurts and trials of life more effectively, without denial or pretence, openly and honestly, not afraid that life will crush us if we drop our defences. When we see God for who He is and then who we are in relation to Him and where we will ultimately end up, that is what gives us hope as Christians.

However God has made me very aware over the years of the fact that many Christians go through their Christian walk without actually 'knowing' Gods love deep in their hearts. Not able to do what I have described above. Not able to lay themselves bare before God, heart and Soul surrendered before Him.

They know about Gods love and are convinced of it in their heads. They can recite the verses that talk about His love. The person may have a great ministry and gifting and be actively exercising those gifts to serve others. But it is not a living reality at the heart of their soul. When living like that the Christian walk can be just plain hard work. In reality everyone's walk with God goes through rough times when it feels tough but for a person who's heart doesn't know Gods love that deep it really is a slog. How do I know, because I've been there and occasionally find myself back there.

I've been there when people have been talking about Gods love out of a passionate deeply held conviction and it has left me cold. Or alternatively thinking I wish I knew that. Where they have said that we need to open our hearts to God and let him in and we will know his Love. Where I think 'well you don't know what I have been through!. If you did you'll know I can't do that'. For me the idea of surrendering my heart sent panic and fear through me. I had a God given picture in my mind of me as a child clutching a big iron ring attached to a harbour wall, like ones you use to tie up ships. I could not let go and was holding on to it like my life depended on it. God was holding out his hands and asking me to let go and take His hands. For a long time I couldn't do it. Eventually I decided to take one hand off and keep one holding on. One day I decided I had to let go due to Gods persistence and the desire to not be stuck in fear the rest of my life. It felt like stepping off a cliff into the unknown, would God catch me? For me looking back it was like stepping off a cliff edge and screaming and crying in fear until I looked to find I hadn't actually fallen a mm and I was in fact in Gods safe secure arms. It was at the point I decided to let go that I understood in my heart what it meant to 'know' Gods love at the very core of my soul. Until then I had not let God penetrate my heart out of fear and ultimately a total lack of trust that God was good and had my best interests at heart.

That is at its core original sin. Satan tempted Eve with 'Did God Really say.....?'. The serpent undermined Eve's trust in God and set the thought going that has pervaded every generation since. 'Can I trust God? Is God holding out on me? Therefore is God good?' That doubt is at the heart of original sin and drives nearly everything we do. We lost that core belief in God's goodness and his unwavering Love for us. If God isn't good and we can't trust Him then we must do all we can to protect ourselves by taking control of our own lives and doing whatever it takes to avoid being hurt and to feel good about ourselves. We put ourselves in the place of God! Living in this fallen messed up world only reinforces that message. Hence addictions like drugs, pornography, sexual immorality, affairs, alcoholism. The way we hide behind masks of achievement, appearance, social status, perfectionism, pleasing others, pleasing no one, trusting no one and much more. All designed to fill that space left after original sin caused us to doubt God. We are in effect trying to get back to Eden but our own way. Drinking in our own muddy puddles (Jer 2:13)

Adam's sin also created in us the deep thirsts and longings in our hearts for God. What was fact prior to the fall, complete security, worth and significance derived from Adam and Eve's unbroken relationship with God became needs after the fall. We became insecure, insignificant and lacked value since we were separated from our creator by sin. Now our needs must be met, as we were created to have them met. However without God meeting them we look everywhere but God to have them met.

But the bible says the following:

"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David."

Isaiah 55:1-3

Jesus answered "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the
water I give him will become in him a spring of living water welling up to eternal life."

John 4:14

...give us today our daily bread. Mtt 6 v11

God longs for us to turn to Him to have those needs met once again in Him. He invites us in those verses to satisfy our deepest longings in Him and find life. Our relationship is restored through Christ. God can once again meet those deep soul longings and thirsts for us to feel security, significance and worth. Derived totally from our relationship to the Father as His children. Psalm 139 beautifully illustrates our innate value as children of God.

I was not trusting in Gods goodness and love when I couldn't surrender my heart to Him. That required repentance on my part when I realised this and is ongoing when I take back control of my heart and try to satisfy my needs with the things of this world. Total trust is at the core of anything we do as Christians. Without trust we cannot worship the Lord from the core of our soul. Without trust we cannot lay naked before him, our hearts surrendered and open wide allowing Gods love to permeate our very souls. We cannot face the world without self protective masks and truly love our fellow hurting human beings if our hearts are not surrendered and rooted in vulnerable trust in our Father in heaven.

Every day we must continually surrender our lives and hearts to God. Christ’s death on the cross is all the proof we need of Gods faithful, total and utter commitment to having a restored love relationship with His children. 'It is finished!', the temple curtain torn in two, total unrestricted access to the Father. God is truly Good and trustworthy!

We have been asked recently what makes us weep. People I know who so desperately need to know Gods love deeply and yet don't. People who's hearts are crying out for satisfaction of their parched thirsty souls and yet don't know the Fathers love deeply enough. That is what makes me weep!

We are all on a journey and are at different points on that journey. Those that are not Christians and have no concept of such a love. Those that are Christians yet struggle with knowing/feeling Gods love for them. Those who know with varying degrees that love in their hearts. Wherever you are my prayer and longing is that you '...may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.' Eph 3:18

You may ask what the beginning part of this long thing that I have written has to do with the second part. Well on this journey God is showing me that the more I dwell on His awesome nature and just sit in His presence and read the word the more I realise how liberating it is to open my heart to Him. That all the power of God is for us so we can rest secure and in peace. What it means to be broken before Him. To be able to trust my heart to him and not to fear being vulnerable. All lessons God is teaching me in his own gentle and purposeful way.

Do I find it easy, No! Do I run away sometimes in fear, Yes! Does God treat my heart gently and tenderly when I let Him at it, Yes! Can you know the Fathers love at the very core of your being, Undoubtedly!

It takes an apparent risk. It takes courage. It takes trust. It takes repentance. It takes asking. It takes vulnerability and surrendering. It takes tears. It takes wrestling with your heart and the devil. It is worth all of that!!!!!

If any of those are issues for you then please talk to someone. Get help and prayer. Don't let your heart be bound up in fear and pain. You can do it with the Lords help!

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