I am a visual person. I need something before my eyes. I need to connect the things that I see before my eyes with whatever I am hearing or feeling before anything in my life really begins to make sense. So naturally, transitioning from a religious mindset to living a Spirit-led life has been an adjustment for me and all of my five senses.
Sometimes things take a good long while to sink into my being. The love of God is one of those things. For quite awhile now, people have told me that if I could really ever grasp the love of God, the whole game would change for me. Love has been prophesied to me over and over, in some form or fashion.
How do you trust the love of a God you cannot see?
That is a question I battled with for a long time. In Gary Chapman's book, The 5 Love Languages of God, he shares that people primarily have five areas in which they feel most loved: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, receiving gifts, and quality time. He tells that while people may walk in more than one of these five languages when they give/receive love, we primarily walk in one main love language. He also says that we often have a secondary love language. Kind of like a subtitle....you know how it is. We humans like variety.
When I looked at my life, it did not take me long to realize that physical touch was my primary love language, followed closely by the secondary words of affirmation love language. There is nothing that makes me feel loved like a good, warm hug. But when I realized this, I felt a feeling of defeat immediately fall over me. All I could think about was, how am I ever going to really let the love of God sink deep into me when my love language is physical touch? My thought was that God was not going to all of a sudden reach down and give me a big hug - not that He couldn't, but odds are that would not happen.
I began to pray that God would show me His love and help me to not just see it, but to feel it, because physical touch it is how I feel love. Very, very slowly, God in His goodness began to teach me. It started slow. I remember the first time His love really began to strike a chord in me. We were driving home from church on a Sunday afternoon in early summer. A girl in our vehicle randomly stuck her head out the window at one point and yelled, "Jesus is loving all over me!" She later explained that she feels God's love for her in the breeze.
The next thing that began to make the love of God sink deep into my being was the book Gods at War by Kyle Idleman, teaching pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. It's a book about idolatry - a great book....you should check it out. But the whole beginning of the book talks about how jealous God is for us....so jealous that He does not want us to put any thing or any person above Him.
All of a sudden, God began to allow me to see His love for me in ways that were within the realm of my primary love language. Sometimes someone will give me a big hug that just radiates a love than transcends human emotion and capability, or I will be outside and the wind will hit me just right to where I literally feel held, or the presence of God falls so heavy in a room during worship at church or somewhere and it feels like He is right there next to me.
But the really beautiful thing was when God also began to open my eyes to see His love for me in ways beyond my natural love language. He began to allow me to feel His love in new and exciting ways which deepened my intimacy with Him. He would give me eyes to see beauty that only my heart would understand. He would give me ears to hear music that speaks deep to my soul. He would send someone to give me a great hand lotion that made everything I put my hands to feel softer.
A different purity of gratitude began for me when I could count all the little ways He loves me.....because He took extra care to show that He knows exactly how I need to be loved.
It did not take long for me to realize that God is not limited to my primary human love language. He delights Himself is lavishing His love onto His children in any way He sees fit. His love exceeds my understanding and I know I will never understand it fully, but He has definitely allowed me to see and feel His love for me in much deeper ways.
"Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that He has lavished on us! He has called us and made us His very own beloved children." (1 John 3:1 - The Passion Translation)
You know how you reach that point when you think you are finished with a season and have moved on to something else in God? Well, in my life, that's when He only goes deeper. I had reached a good place with the whole love of God thing and thought that I had moved on to other things. However, as so often in the case, I thought wrong.
I have this big canvas print of my favorite photograph of my Daddy and I from when I was a little girl. This particular photo was taken on Easter when I was two years old. I have always loved that photo for some reason....and it has remained a favorite of mine. But since my Daddy passed away, I have stopped keeping photos of him sitting out. Constantly seeing them was keeping me in a place where grief had become a weapon formed against me, so I needed to put them away and out of sight. Like I said - I am a visual person.
But recently, I have felt God leading me to pull out this canvas photo. Confused, but wanting to be obedient, I pulled it out and placed it on top of my dresser. For a good two weeks at least, I spent my early morning time with God frequently staring at the canvas photo, while praying and digging in the Word trying to seek an answer from Him as to why He wanted me to pull that canvas out. I did not particularly want it out. Grief is easier for me to manage when I do not have the visuals before my eyes all the time.
Eventually, He revealed to me that He wanted me to have the visual to remind me of how it felt to be a little girl who was secure in her Father's love, who fully trusted in her Father's love.....a little girl who loved to abide with and dance with her Daddy.
"Learn this well: unless you receive the revelation of the kingdom realm the same way a little child receives it, you will never be able to enter in.”
(Luke 18:17 - The Passion Translation)
He began to show me that now that He has given me revelation of His love for me, that now I need to begin to really operate from a place of love. What does that look like, I asked Him? He drew my eyes to areas of my life that do not reflect the attitude of a child deeply and perfectly loved by her heavenly Father. Areas in which I deal with insecurity, fear, unbelief, a lack of trust. Areas in which God is continually working with me on.
We do not work to love, we work from a place of love.
If we will only abide in Him, God will teach us how to dance with Him. He will teach us how to operate from a place of love. I want to be a person who operates from a place of love. I am the beloved of the Most High God. You are the beloved of the Most High God. Learning how to be loved is a process. I believe we are going to be in process for the rest of our lives because God loves relationship so much....but it is all a progression into deeper intimacy with Him.
"Living in the awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves. Being the beloved is our identity the core of our existence. It is the name by which God knows us and the way He relates to us." (Brennan Manning in Abba's Child)
God, in His infinite goodness, loves us....the humans that we are. Love is what changes us. Love is the only thing that can change us. Love changes us because He is good. Kevin Seagle preached a conference at our church this past weekend, and something he said has stuck with me in the deep places of my heart.
"People condemn me about preaching too much love and goodness....but I've never seen anything but love and goodness change anybody!" (Kevin Seagle)
How very right on Kevin is. May we never stop teaching, preaching, and showing the love of our good, good Father....and the only way we can do that properly is to operate from a place of love and trust God to establish us and secure us in our place of belovedness.
Enjoy the playfulness of watching out for the countless ways God wants to show you His love for you. Our God is a God of joy....He will never cease to amaze you and make you smile with how He chooses to remind you of His love for you. As I write this, our church's worship team - Breath of Life Worship - is doing their very first ever Facebook Live of their Breath of Life Worship Sessions. (Watch the video HERE. You will love it. My thanks to Dewain and Meleah Meador of Breath of Life Worship for letting God use you and work through you tonight.) And literally as I type this blog, the words they are singing are.....like a flood, like a flood, we receive Your love when You come like a flood. That is just how good and perfect our God is. He is a God of the details.
My prayer for you, whoever reads this, is the prayer that the Apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians 3.
"So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the perfect Father of every father and child in heaven and on the earth. And I pray that He would unveil within you the unlimited riches of His glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with His divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of His love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is His love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for His miraculous power constantly energizes you. Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!"
(Ephesians 3:14-21, The Passion Translation)