I’ve been reflecting over the past weeks about holy longing. And while I believe that relationship with God is superficial without yearning and desire, the panting love described in Psalm 42:1, I haven’t really talked about how to get to the place where you are so caught up with desire for God that you long for God. Not for God’s actions, but for God alone. (There is a big difference in seeking God because you simply desire the presence of God and seeking God because you want God to do something).
What I have grown to realize for myself is that for me to desire God, I have to know in my heart of hearts how much God desires me, just the way I am. God’s unshakable love for us, when we can finally accept that, opens us up to return that love. We can talk all day long about how “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” but there is a big difference between saying it and really, truly believing it, believing it to the point that we finally realize that we don’t have to DO anything for God to love us.
No matter how much we may say we believe we are saved by faith, not works, many of us live in a fear-based relationship with God. We fear that we don’t measure up, that we are not lovable by God unless we act a certain way. Maybe we don’t believe God loves us because we know what we have done or failed to do. I expect it is nigh on impossible to be passionately in love with a God whom you believe is ready to zap you for not “measuring up.”
When I was part of the 2-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, I remember Dr. Roberta Bondi telling us that God does not love us in spite of ourselves. God loves us because of ourselves. Take some time this week and see if you really believe you are loved by God. Look at your actions for God. Are they motivated by love or by fear? If you are having a hard time truly believing that God is crazy in love with you, spend some time this week pondering Romans 5:8: But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
Can you believe that God loves you so much that God would die so you would not have to live with the fear of condemnation?