As I reflect on what messages over the decades of my life have been the most important and impactful to me I immediately think of the revelation that ‘God Loves Me’.
Of course I sang about that in Sunday School as a child. “Jesus Loves Me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. Yet that truth, like so many others, was more like a nursery rhyme than a living truth that I took hold of and allowed to change me.
I was in my late teenage years before I heard preachers talk about God’s love for me in something other than childish or evangelistic terms. Of course the message to sinners is that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son”, but that always seemed to be a message for the masses, not a personal truth for me.
In the late 1960’s, as my family encountered the Charismatic Revival, I began to hear preachers who were different to those I had listened to since my childhood. These preachers spoke of things that were alive in their life, not just documented in the Bible. These were men who experienced God and passed on what they knew from experience.
A message that I head multiple times was about God’s Love for me, not just the world, but ME! Preachers like Ps Jack Hayford were among those who broke open to me the living truth of God’s abundant love for me. He, like the others, contended with the religious ideas that were so often found among Christians, that God was more a judge than a father.
I certainly felt as if coming into God’s presence was like coming before the School Headmaster, unsure what you might be told off for, but certainly not expecting him to show affection.
As I heard those messages I had to accept the Bible truth of God’s personal love and devotion to me, but I also had to be set free from fears, guilt, shame and unworthiness.
I had never applied the concept of relationship to my notion of God. God was an authority figure, but not a warm and friendly, caring Father I could relate to.
An image that formed in my mind as I heard repeated messages about God’s love for me is that of an infant prince in a palace. His father is king and, as such, is virtually unreachable by the masses. Even dignitaries and high officials have to wait indefinitely for an audience with the monarch.
Yet the prince could virtually run into the throne room and approach his father. Others would be punished for such things. Dignitaries have to wait on the whim of the King, but the prince, the King’s son, has virtual open access.
The same applies for you as God’s child. God is the ultimate authority in all eternity and even the world’s richest and most powerful would have to wait for an appointment and approach with the right protocol. But not you. As God’s child you may come boldly to the throne of grace at any time of day or night, whether you have mud on your feet or not, because your loving Heavenly Father is in a most intimate relationship with you.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (at our moment of need).” Hebrews 4:16
Another reflection on God’s grace came from the teaching of Ps Jack Hayford, way back in 1972. He talked of a father who had an infant son which he wanted to learn to walk. Jack suggested that the father would pick up the son, stand the child on its feet and then speak sternly and with great authority, explaining to the child that it was time for the child to walk.
Jack suggested that the child, aware of the austere sternness of the father, would swallow hard an do his absolute best not to fall over. The child took one step, with great relief, then another, but then fell flat on his face.
Jack suggested then that the father would pick up the child, walk to the back door and throw the child out the door, while telling his wife, “This one’s no good. We’ll have to make another.”
That suggestion is absolutely offensive to our imagination. No true father would do such a thing. Yet somehow we think our Heavenly Father will treat us like that.
A story like that did a lot to break down the religious notions that many Christians have caught, that God is judge first and foremost, and our performance, or failure to perform, is more important than the relationship of Father and Child.
I came to realise that God actually loves me, as His son, and His greatest delight is not in my service or obedience, but in the sweetness of the relationship.
And a father/son relationship is able to overcome failures and disappointments, mistakes and moments of anger and frustration. That relationship is able to overcome all that would destroy it, such as we see in the account of the Prodigal Son.
That son humiliated and mocked his father, yet the father’s heart was still totally committed to the son who deserved nothing but scorn.
So, welcome to the family and welcome to the revelation that God loves you. God loves YOU, as a perfect father loves an imperfect son, and nothing you do can make God stop loving you.
I pray that you receive and enjoy the revelation that so impressed me, and let me impress on you once again that God Loves You!