Stop Singing Jesus Loves Me

9:26 AMHeather

I've been a follower of Jesus most of my life.  On a church attendance roll since the nursery.  Attended Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights.  Did GA's back in the day, and earned as many little gold stars on the Bible verse memorization chart in Sunday School that I could possibly could.  Sang the songs, know the lingo, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.  

So, it's rather startling to realize the current state of my spiritual walk.  I've recently determined that it's best summed up with one word.  Deconstruction.  Yep.  Deconstruction.  Pulling apart the thoughts and beliefs and foundations in order to see each piece for what it is.  So that God can retrain me on what it should be.  In order to put it all back together again. 

You know, little life long beliefs that I never gave a second thought, yet I had assigned them the label of absolutes.  All along, God never intended me to mix up traditions and man's opinions as His Biblical standard.  In working and striving to do the right things, I lost sight of grace.  In seeing things so black and white--the good little Christian bubble and the "rest of them"--I ignored the truth that Jesus' ministry was marked by love to the unlovely.  Not pride in the goody goody's.  It's not us and them.  It's us and HIM.  Church doesn't happen within four walls.  Nope.  It happens every day, in every interaction, in every word, in every moment.  Radical!  Yes.  David Platt has been part of this deconstruction journey.  And Jen Hatmaker and my love/hate for her "7."  Or Katie Davis and her obedience to move to Africa and be marked and known for her love rather than man's conventions on what life should be.  

Deconstruction.  The brutal and beautiful journey.  Which continued during my recent trip to Moose Lake Gospel Camp in northern Alberta, Canada.  There, a simple epiphany is still rolling around my head and heart as I grapple with the enormous ramifications.  

Stop singing Jesus loves me.  Really.  Just stop.  Stop singing it!  Instead, sit back and consider it.  Jesus loves me.  Words sung from rote and tradition?  All meaning and significance long ago lost?  Or words really believed and grasped and held tightly?  Plain and simple.  Do I get it?  Do I really understand God's love for me?

My stubborn brain responded.  Duh.  Of course.  I can recite the sinner's prayer.  I know the Roman road.  Um, no, I never did Evangelism Explosion.  That door to door thing was never my forte.  But, I have the little salvation cube with the photos so that I can show a person despite language barriers how Jesus died on the cross for them.  Sure, I've never traveled to a foreign country for that purpose and that cube sits in my closet.  But, duh.  Jesus loves me.  This I know.

Yet, God wasn't done.  He challenged me.  Do I REALLY know it?  Do I REALLY get it?  Under the canopy of the tall pine trees, beneath the beautiful crisp clear blue skies, next to the lake as still as glass...far away from my every day norm, God challenged me.  Do I really know that He loves me?

And, it hit me.  Actually, the answer is no.  Because I realized that up until now, I have assigned God's love for me the very attributes I experience in how others love me.  I try to say, "but He loves me better than even that."  But, in all honesty, I've spent my life boxing God's love into a package that looks an awful lot like how others have loved me.

And I had to sit back and consider how I've been loved.  And how I've boxed God into those packages.  
God does not walk away.  He does not take a family feud and cut off all communication.  God does not leave for any circumstance.  God does not abandon me in my weakest moments.  God is not overwhelmed by my burdens, running away because it's too much.  God does not put His desires before mine, loving me when its convenient for Him. His love is not narcissistic or self-serving.  God does not love on the run--busy, busy, busy running the universe--and penciling me in when He can squeeze me in.  God does not love with favoritism.  God does not love only when he's not angry or offended.  God does not love impatiently.  God does not love like anyone else on this planet.  There is no comparison.  There is how people love, in our fallen, sin nature ways.  And then, His love is a different category altogether.

There, as I sat among extended family who love me like no one else, I realized what He was trying to show me.  When I visit them, I feel a refuge.  I can cry, be angry, be happy, be insecure.  And they listen.  They listen with their hearts, not just their ears.  They are happy to be with me, and make our time together their complete focus and priority.   For a girl with a quality time love language, there is nothing like someone engaging with me so completely.  My guard literally goes down and my stress level diminishes.  Because I know I am accepted.  I am special to them.  I am important to them.

And, sitting in my cabin, with these beloved family members just steps away, God whispered, "That, my darling girl, is only a teeny tiny picture of how I love you!  I am your safe place to fall.  I am your all in all.  I love you fiercely.  Completely.  Utterly.  You are safe in my arms of love.  Sit back and rest with Me, and know that My love is in a category all it's own.  Quit assigning attributes to My love that you experience elsewhere.  Let's just take our time to have you pray for the power, through my Holy Spirit, to grasp how wide and deep and high is the love of your Abba Father."

What about you?  Do you sing Jesus Loves Me, but maybe you've never really wrestled it through with God about how He actually loves you?  Stop singing.  Get quiet.  Away from the noise of it all.  And ask Him to begin to reveal to you how He really loves you.  Ask Him to show you how you might assign His love the characteristics you experience with other people.  Ask Him to deconstruct it.  To help you pick it apart and grasp--really begin to meditate--on how He really loves you.  

Because it's not imperfect, like every other relationship in your life.  It's way beyond and better than anything you can wrap your brain around.  So, we need Him to give us revelations of how He loves.  To understand His love.  So that we can rest in it.  I'm regularly praying that He gives me eyes to see His love.  To understand it.  To feel it.  To know it as I have never known it before.  

I'm seeing that underneath all my traditions and misconceptions, His love is the very root of my faith.  It's the beginning and the end.  When I can be filled with understanding of His love, I can see who I am in Him.  That love will overflow into my life.  And I can begin to step out into new mission fields and new callings.  I can walk with a freedom I've never experienced.

I can be an imitator of God, as dearly loved children!  (Ephesians 5:1).

So let's just stop singing Jesus loves me.  Let's lay back in His arms and live it.     

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