Life can be messy, you know?
It’s easy to believe Jesus when it’s not messy. When I was young and the worst things I did were sneak home a rap album and play too many video games and not do enough homework – at that point, it didn’t really mean a lot to think I was loved by Jesus – I didn’t really understand a lot of the weight of bad choices and big mistakes.
But lately, I am starting to.
In the last three or so months, I’ve made some of the biggest mistakes of my life. And to an extent – that’s okay. Sometimes I think that God sits on His throne saying, “you can do whatever you want, son. I’m telling you – it’s a bad idea, but I still love you and you can talk to me about how big of a mistake it was after it’s done. I’ll still be here.”
It’s hard to fully articulate the degree to which these mistakes have clouded my judgment, distracted me from work, from God, from church, from resting. I’ve awoken on some days completely overtaken by some thoughts – in the aftermath of some decisions that aren’t my finest.
But I’ll use Sunday as an example – I was on about two hours of sleep, distracted by the fact that I had worked all week (Although I did get the rare day off;) I’d stayed up way too late; I lost my temper too much at work that week; I was thinking about the extent to which I’d made church a priority (the answer: not high. I’ve stayed home and rested and watched Chelsea games on TV more than I’ve gone to church in the last few months. Not that going to church makes or breaks your Christianity, but man, it helps you;) and finally, I was a slave to a schedule as I was moving from my house to my new apartment and I had a great degree of running around to do for that.
I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t see Jesus. I couldn’t grasp the gospel. It was a fog. People reached out to me, introduced themselves to me, and invited me to their connect group, but my brain was so far away that none of it really registered.
I think it was all fruit of choices. More specifically, it was bad fruit of bad choices. It was choosing not to take care of my body, choosing not to relax and unwind when I should have done, it was staying up way too late and not resting, it was choosing to do the things I thought I wanted which, ironically, only brought me more anxiety.
Aaaaaaaand I wonder why I have a hard time with the thought of plugging into a new church.
But here’s what I love about God: all of this has to be so small to Him.
I like to think that when we’re living forever with God, He’ll look back with us at the days when we felt we were at our darkest, and we’ll laugh about all of the little things that stressed us to the point of tears. We’ll realize just how merciful and gracious He was in those moments, how much grace He still extended. We’ll realize how powerful His love is – that in the face of failure and darkness, He stood open-handed waiting for us to respond.
I remember a morning last year when I was still at River of Life – we were singing the song Forever by Kari Jobe. A line I’d sung a million times finally stuck out to me like a sore thumb.
His perfect love could not be overcome.
God, in that moment, spoke in a voice louder than I’d ever remembered hearing Him before.
It’s not so much that the enemy of our souls can’t overcome His love – that’s true.
But I think that this is what it means…
My doubt can’t overcome His love.
My fear can’t overcome His love.
My insecurity can’t overcome His love.
My mistakes can’t overcome His love.
If I reject His love, not even that overcomes it.
The amazing thing about the love of God is that the impetus is always on Him – not us.
I tend to think of it like this…
Whenever I’ve dated a girl, her response to my treatment is the determining factor. I can give everything I have in a relationship, but if she doesn’t respond to it, if she doesn’t accept it, then it means nothing. The love loses all of its impetus. Her opinion of me and her response to me can crush me or uphold me.
Not so with our response to God. God is God whether we accept love or not, God loves whether we believe it or not, God loves whether we know it or not.
I can’t drown out God’s love with cognition – because it’s not just a thought. I can’t drown it out with logic or reason – because it’s not just a feeling. I can’t drown it out with rejection or doubt – because it’s a steadfast choice He has made.
and that’s really, really good news.