by: Staci Stallings
It’s amazing how basic these questions are and how very wrong I got the answers for oh, so long in my life.
Not only did I see God as a vindictive employer, I also answer that I was worth something only if I performed well. Those two questions were bad enough, but this next one really sent me into a tailspin.
Do you accept what God is trying to give you?
Now, seriously. The easy answer to this one should be, “Yes.” But for a long time, my answer was no.
I couldn’t accept that God loved me just as I was because clearly I wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t accept His forgiveness for the things I’d gotten wrong because… well, I wasn’t perfect.
Of course, I knew Jesus hung on a cross and died for my sins. I knew that gave me admittance into Heaven, but that didn’t have much to do with now or with how I felt about myself and what I was doing with my life.
Please go back and reread the last two paragraphs as you do, carefully count how many “I”s “myself”s “my”s and “me”s there are. Now count how many “God”s, “Jesus”s and “He”s there are.
And no, I didn’t do that on purpose. You see, I can easily remember what that time was like before I finally accepted what God was giving me. I remember how lonely it felt, how depressing, how isolating. I remember thinking everyone else was looking at me and judging me. I very well remember trying to walk the tightrope of doing enough perfectly enough to please God while simultaneously keeping that from others who would judge me for trying to be perfect.
Then, a miracle happened. It really was and is a miracle I live every day.
God knocked on my heart and said, “I love you, just as you are. No more is needed than My love. Come rest in Me.”
I’m not going to tell you that was easy, and it wasn’t a one-time-and-it’s-done deal either. At first it took real, conscious effort. At first, I stumbled in that walk more often than not. I had gotten so conditioned to look inward for my validation that it was hard not to berate myself when things didn’t go perfectly.
But what I found as I accepted what God was giving me was that when I fell, I was the only one in condemnation mode. He was not.
His eyes, ever soft, ever forgiving simply held out hope and a love for me that I never could have imagined. As I experienced that, my heart softened–yes, toward Him, but more toward myself, and then to others. I saw how much others were hurting just like me. I saw how they were asking, just as I was, to feel important and loved. I saw how tragically low so many of them felt about themselves and how very far from God’s love they felt.
Life suddenly became about reaching out rather than looking inward with the whip. Interestingly, the more I just let God love me, the more I could love others. Deeply. Profoundly. Not in a “what can they give me in return” way. Just lavishly. Because I was already full. I didn’t need them to fill me.
So, where are you with this question? Do you let God love you? Do you feel His love? Or are you striving to gain it? Do you accept the love and forgiveness He is holding out to you, or are you keeping yourself from it until you feel you’ve earned it?
Trust me, you will never feel like you’ve earned it. And even if you can get there for a little while, it won’t last if it’s based on what you’ve done. It has to be based on HIM, never on you.
But if you can get that right, wow, does it change EVERYTHING!