Friday, February 13, 2015

If that isn't love ...

Hearing the words “I love you” can be quite exciting.  However that same phrase stirs the innermost part of our being when it comes to authenticity. 

When I was a teenager I heard that “line” from a lot of boys, so much so that I no longer believed it.  The reason I couldn’t accept this outburst of affection was because their actions never matched up with their words.  They seldom do. 

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No, I’m Not Your Valentine 

When I was sixteen years old, a certain young man from school told me that he too loved me on Valentine’s Day.  It wasn’t something unusual considering it was the holiday for sharing such emotions, so I didn’t think it to be serious. 

However, he continued sharing his feelings of affliction, yes affliction, to me to the point I didn’t want to hear those three words come out of his mouth.  I would get so angry with him and demand that he stop declaring his feelings knowing that I didn’t love him back. What a pest I thought. 

Did that stop him?  No. Despite how I felt, he kept telling me how he felt even when I never reciprocated. Oh, if I could just get him to stop saying that he loved me! 

Love Changes Everything 

For the next few years I dated as any “normal” teenager would with this boy from homeroom still bothering me with that three word charm.  He sat right behind me and in a short time we became good friends, no best friends. It wasn’t long before I shared all my thoughts and woes with him.  

When things were going good with my dates he would listen and say, “I love you.”  During my break-ups he would comfort me with his “love you” quote that seemed never to tire.  He even broke-up with a few of them for me, how great of a friend is that, and why would I want anything to change? 

Finally, I gave in and said that I would go to a church Christmas banquet with this boy as long as no one else asked me.  Pretty bad huh?  I didn’t want to encourage my friend into thinking I had feelings for him when I just considered us “buds”. 

It wasn’t until our senior year of high school that something changed in our relationship and I started to notice that this person’s actions matched up with what he had been telling me for three years.  After more than a few thousand “I love you’s” I was able to respond for the first time. 

Do you want to know what made me see things differently? 

One thing that I had in common with my father was gardening, and whenever I got the chance to help him plant something I quickly volunteered for the task.  It was during one of those plantings that some feelings revealed some “seeds” I hadn’t noticed. 

I was working in a large tiered flower bed outside the back entrance of my parent’s home on a Saturday afternoon.  The parking area was adjacent to it so anyone pulling in the drive would obviously see me. That really wasn’t a concern since I wasn’t expecting visitors.  You don’t have to read between the lines to know what I’m about to tell you do you? 

With hair pulled up on my head, I was covered in soil from my face to toes.  My clothes were rather dirty from digging; not a pleasing sight for greeting guests you might say.  You can imagine how I felt when my “then” boyfriend had arrived to see me at the same time my homeroom best friend did.  

How awkward … both boys walked up to me as I was in my digging position.  Shall I say something was about to become uncovered? 

I was apologizing for my appearance when my boyfriend suddenly openly exclaimed how I looked a mess!  I didn’t appreciate his comment, but took it on the “dirty” chin.  Although I was willing to let his unkind words slide, someone else wasn’t about to let them go.  My best friend said, “She would look beautiful even if she was wearing a brown sack.” 
Right then and there, “bing” went the strings of my heart.  (To get the full effect of this you need to read it with a southern accent.) 

The following year I married that man who refused to stop saying “I love you” with more than his words.  You lovingly know him as “hubby” and he still shares his feelings dozens of times each day.  He never lets me go more than a few hours without telling me those same three words.  His love hasn’t diminished or stopped even when I haven’t responded with overwhelming joy.

What He Said 

As I was having an extremely exhausting time trying to tap into what God wanted me to share this week, He kept bringing me back to what He said ... "tell them I love them.”  The problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to write a story that would fit what God wanted me to share with you until late last evening. 

God showed to me through my own experience how He feels about us. For over 6,000 years God’s been telling mankind that He loves us through creation and all the things He has done to draw us back to Him. 

From the first man who walked on this earth until the last man who will, there will always be sin; the very thing that caused the separation from God.  Although sin enters the life of man, God refuses to let something so dirty keep us from His love. 

The Heavenly Father made a way to bring us back to Him through sending His Son Jesus Christ as our Redeemer.  The Bible tells of a love that is greater than any other in the passage of John 3:16: 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish, but receive everlasting life (in Heaven with Him). (emphasis mine) 

Jesus told of His love for the Father and us when He gave His life for our sins.  In going to the cross Jesus took action on the Words He spoke, backing up His feelings as true. If that isn’t love, what is? 

When we accept God’s Son into our heart and lives, we are telling Him that we believe His love for us is valid and trustworthy.   

Journey to I Love You 

All those years ago my husband saw something he loved in me.  In reality I was rather dirty and messy from what I had been doing in that flowerbed.  Even though he saw the dirt, he didn’t label me as “dirty”, nor did he stop loving me.  He wasn’t looking on the outside, but at the real me.  The dirt was something that could be washed away.  

Upon salvation Christ accepts us and removes our dirty sin, washing away everything that came between the Heavenly Father and us.  God looked beyond our faults, weaknesses, sins and inabilities, redeeming the person He has always loved from the beginning. 

It took me a long time to say the words “I love you” to someone, because I didn’t trust the person(s) who said them.  Jesus has said that He loves us, but have we listened to those words or believed them? 

In life’s travels the journey can get rather dirty, because we all have issues making it hard to trust God's love. The paths are covered with the things of this world that want to cover up what Jesus has told us through His Word.  Even if we never tell God that we love Him, it won’t change the way He feels about us.  We are beautiful and loved by God.  He sees beyond the “dirty sack” and is willing to forgive all our sin. 

There is nothing we can do to stop His feelings or prevent Him from loving you or me.  Now that’s the kind of love I want to believe in and receive.  

The Apostle Paul did his best to make it clear how God feels about us when he spoke what he believed in the book of Romans. 

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans8:38-39 NKJV) 


This Week’s Challenge:
Believe & Receive God’s Love 

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that there really is someone who can love us dirt and all, but there is.  The challenge that God wants us to take this week seems rather simple, but for some it will almost be impossible.  

Here it is: Believe God loves you. I mean really believe it, even if you don’t feel loved or understand how He could love you.   

Jesus wanted us to believe and experience the love of God so much that it was in His closing prayer before He died that He made this request: 

“O Righteous Father!  The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me (Jesus referring to His followers).  And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (from John 17 NKJV) 

How many times does God have to say “I love you” before you believe? His grace is His favor, creation is the evidence of it, and Jesus is the deliverer and witness of that love.  It’s time to accept the love of God and love Him back.  

God isn’t asking for a Valentine with wishy-washy promises. He wants to be the love of your life, now and forever.  His love will change everything in your life. 
Will you accept the challenge to believe what Jesus asked the Father on our behalf?  Will you let the love of God into your life and fulfill a prayer for someone else – Jesus?  

Until next time, I’m loving God’s favor.
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“Believe I will always love you.”
Jesus Christ

 What’s New This Week: Click on book or link.
by Janeen Michael-Lanier

A true story of how a Pastor's wife found the compassion of God the healing source for all her past abuses, failures and misconceptions about true love.  Available in hardback and paperback.

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.

Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. 
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  Love Sick Puppy  Valentine Rejection  Love Changes Everything  Girl in Brown Sack  John 3:16  Believe
Disclaimer Notes: Results may vary due to lack of belief.