Two years ago we were blessed with the birth of our first grandchild, Olive. Her mom and dad live near Cincinnati so we have been able to be a part of her life for these past two years, but a few months ago we had our first opportunity to have her all to ourselves for two days and experience her first “overnight” with us. It was awesome to care for her, provide for her and love on her. One of the most special aspects for me were the times when she would run across the room, stop at my feet, look up at me, lift her arms and say “Gampaw, UP!” I bend down, lift her and take her into my embrace. When she wraps her little arms around my neck, my heart is filled with a joy so complete it takes my breath away. I’m sure every grandparent and parent is nodding their head right now, with an understanding of this feeling of complete and unconditional love.
At Restoring Lives International ministry, we see so many people who struggle with feeling God’s love. Have you had a bad example from your earthly father and you haven’t seen a good model of the father’s love? Or maybe you have had disappointments or even catastrophes in your life that have left you feeling lonely and abandoned? Or perhaps you feel like your prayers are empty, unheard and unanswered? You are not alone.
Even David, beloved of God, felt this way when he wrote:
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. (Psalm 142:4 NIV)
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)
Pastor Rick Warren tells a story about a man who came into his office and said, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t feel like I’m going anywhere in my spiritual growth. I’m kind of stuck in neutral.” Pastor Warren said, “What do you think your problem is?” The man said, “I think my problem is I just don’t love God enough.” Pastor Warren replied, “That’s not your problem. Your problem is NOT that you don’t love God enough. Your problem is that you don’t understand how much God loves you!”
Let’s look at some reminders the Bible gives us about God’s love for us. What greater love than this?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:10-11 NIV)
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
These are God’s promises to us; the promises of His love.
Do you remember the love and the joy you felt when you first held your child or your grandchild? Do you remember the overwhelming desire to nurture, provide and protect that child? Do you remember the certainty that whatever might happen, whatever they might do, whatever decisions they might make; you would be there to unconditionally love that child forever? That’s how I feel when I lift Olive into my arms. Now take that love and multiply it by a hundred, a thousand, a million and you might come close to knowing the way our Father in heaven feels about you.
Maybe it’s time for you to stand at His feet, look up into His eyes, lift up your arms and reach for His embrace. Know that He will pick you up, hold you and love you with all His heart.