May 21, 2007

“I’ve loved you with an everlasting love . . .”

I’ve an anniversary card on my desk from my husband (thirty-six years this month). He generally buys the mushy ones, and this one is delightfully that way. As I read it again, I think of how love works. The more we know one another, the more we see our quirks and foibles and the things that, without love, could be down right annoying. Instead, these become part of that love.

God is in it, of course. He makes it possible to not merely forgive idiosyncrasies large and small, but the things done without thought or deliberately, the neglects and injuries that deeply hurt. His love turns all of it to good, working in our lives to make us more like Jesus, and more able to love one another.

As I read Ephesians 3 this morning, I am grateful for the ways that God helps us understand the love of Christ. Verses 16-19 say this, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

In knowing that Jesus loves me, I am free to love others. Not with human love. It fails. I’d give up without His ability to overlook, forgive, see good in difficulties, and persevere when it looks hopeless. So would my husband. We need the love of God to love each other.

I need the love of God to love God too. He is not like my human father, who would give me anything in his power to give. God withholds, says no, will not spoil me, disciplines me when I sin, and even though He alone can hug and kick me at the same time, God’s dealings with me are not always pleasant, never mind understandable. My human response to that is not the same as the response that comes out of His love in me, the love that Christ gives me.

Yet I don’t know the half of it. These verses tell me that, but so does my experience. How great the love of God that showers blessings on me when I’ve done not only nothing to deserve it, but have sinned against Him, taken His care for granted, forgotten about Him for hours on hand, neglected to be thankful, and sometimes get annoyed because it seems as if He is not listening to me. Who do I think I am? This is Almighty God. Yet He loves me. I cannot fathom such love.

Romans 8 ends with words that describe it. “What, then, shall we say in response to this? 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, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

His love has no boundaries. It is forever. It changes lives, and my life, but I still cannot comprehend His greatness, nor the vastness of this incredible love.

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