Thank you whoever bought, read and reviewed the ebook! You are a peach!
So if what you get by God’s grace is so much better than the “blessings” we’ve been praying and asking for, what is it? What do we get? I don’t know what you will get, but here’s what I got:
- LOVE. Love. Love. Love. It really shouldn’t be any wonder, because 1 John 4 tells us that “God is love.” Love is not an attribute of God’s, and love is not something He does, but Love is Who He Is. It is His very substance and being. When you sit still in God’s presence and ask Him to meet with you, it is love which comes seeping under the door and through the cracks in the caulking and flowing in any other way it can get in until it floods the room and carries you away. LOVE.
And love that doesn’t end, that every time you think you have found the limit of it, you find there’s a new depth to it, or another facet of it, another way it illuminates your life and brings joy to your world. I don’t even know how to explain it, these levels, these depths, these ways you continually discover love. You become like a miser sitting with your hoard of gold, letting it tumble through your fingers, only it’s love that you’re running through your mind … God loves me incredibly, endlessly, overwhelmingly, completely, amazingly, strongly, deeply, everlastingly, transformatively, powerfully … on and on it goes, just love, love, love — and love that will carry you and assure you it is carrying everyone else, too. (Isaiah 9:3 says that because of Christ we rejoice “as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” Yes, yes, yes! We are telling all our riches in Jesus and rejoicing in His love!)
You find love for you flowing down from God, love deep and rich enough to flow out of you onto others.
- Joy. What a giddy sensation it is to discover that YOU are the object of divine love. To find that love has made His home in you and will never leave you. This is a joy that doesn’t depend on any circumstances, a joy which is your foundation even when times are hard, even when things hurt. You really can be happy just to be alive. It’s like being in love all the time … because you are in love. It’s joy. Joy. Joy.
- Peace. When you come to experience the love of Christ, you come to understand that He holds you so dear, He will let nothing befall you which will ultimately harm you. He will use even the things which do harm you to bring you to a deeper knowledge of His love. At least, this is how I have experienced it. Whenever a gnawing worry crops up, I hear His voice. “Do you trust me? Can you trust me?” And I do, and I can. If you can trust that no matter what, He is holding you fast, you will have peace, no matter what. What a promise!
- Compassion. In my former loser life, I was like old Scrooge, self-contained and solitary as an oyster. There were few people I loved, and fewer with whom I cared to share any close day-to-day relationship. I was closed-off and uncaring about the mass of mankind. But when you experience God’s love in a real and intimate way, it opens your heart to long for others to receive that love, too! I now find that God’s heart for others is pouring into me, and I have so much more patience, kindness and gentleness with others.
- Freedom from fear. Looking back at my loser life from this place of peace and security in my Beloved, I can more easily see that so much of life before was motivated by fear. Fear of course that people would find out what a loser I was, fear that I would piss my husband off, fear that we would run out of money, fear that America was a generation away from complete godlessness and bankruptcy. Some were reasonable fears, others not so much. But now, firmly founded in the love of Christ … none of these fears bother me. No fears bother me. It’s all love, joy and peace here … what is to fear?
- Grace. God gives you His unmerited favor … and you find yourself able to extend the same to others. Realizing that God has given me a big break, I am now able to give others a break, too. (This is not always as great as it sounds. My poor husband, I think, would like it much better if I were quite as crabby and sick of humanity as he is. But I don’t have the energy for any of that complaining and shouting and hand-waving. My energy is all reserved for loving, approving and including. Grace-giving. Even to him!)
Now Jesus had healed my broken heart and fixed me up just fine. Or, rather, He healed my broken heart and is fixing me up just fine. It’s an ongoing thing. We still meet every day. And of course we walk together every moment of every day. And every now and then He does another little tweak inside me.
But this is all internal, right? It is healing happening inside me. What meeting with Jesus and receiving His love didn’t do was …
- Get me the baby I wanted.
- Get me a better job or the respect of my old job back.
- Make my husband want a baby with me or consider adoption.
- Make my husband desire me more sexually.
- Get me a car with a great stereo and a home by the sea.
So I am still the loser I was. Except everything is different! I am not a desperate loser who looks at the next 40 years with dread because there is no point to living! I am a happy loser with a song in my heart who shares every moment with the One who knows me fully, loves me completely, and every moment is transforming me into the image of Himself, or I would say, into the very substance of Himself, which is love. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! This is what you discover in God’s grace poured out on you.
God is Love. He loves YOU. He’s not mad at you! He’s not punishing you! He never dreams of punishing you. He was and is willing to give up everything just to be with you. Oh my goodness! If you really experience this, directly from Christ Himself, you cannot stay a sad and broken-hearted loser.
I know it sounds stupid. If what you want is a cool car, a great house, a good-looking mate … and what I offer you is the intimate knowledge of God’s love … well, you can’t eat it or show it off or sell it for something better. I mean, it’s nice, but what good is it, right?
That’s exactly why this is so difficult to explain to someone who is not experiencing it. It sounds like it’s all ethereal and spiritual and nothing you can touch and hold in the here and now. But it isn’t! This love, this experience of God’s love, it turns out, is more REAL, more SOLID, more ENDURING than any mere car, house, lover or bankbook. In fact, it freaking liberates you from longing for the car, the house, the lover, the bankbook. It sets you free to live like a king no matter what your circumstances. This is why the Apostle Paul could say that he knew how to live in plenty or in want (Philippians 4:12) … because when you are experiencing the intimate love of Christ, you have, already, everything you need.
Back to the question: What good is this intimate experience of the love of Christ if it doesn’t get you what you want? Here’s the thing: it does get you what you want. Because the more you experience Him, the more you realize, Jesus is what you want. He becomes your passion. And He is willing to give Himself abundantly to you. You don’t get all the cool stuff you want right now— you get something so much better, it’s not hardly even possible to explain the distance between them.
C S Lewis said it this way, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Far too easily pleased! Yes! If you would choose a cool car, a hot spouse and a great house over infinite joy, then you really are a loser. Just kidding. But I don’t want you to think that apprehending the joy of intimate relationship with Jesus is necessarily going to get you a lot of material blessings. It will get you something so much better and beyond material blessings, your whole perspective will be transformed, and your life will feel like it’s beginning again.