When I was a Youth Pastor I remember receiving an emergency call about one of my young adults. I was asked to quickly head over to their apartment.
Upon arrival I discovered the front door slightly open. After calling her name several times I decided to go in and moved my way through the apartment.
To my utter surprise I found her unconscious on the bathroom floor with slits in her wrists. Not a pretty sight. I immediately began to pray for her and called 911.
The good news was that she came out of it OK.
What was disturbing about this was the fact that she loved God, faithfully attended church and was a regular attendee in our young adult group.
In summarizing why she did this it came down to her feeling that God was distant and really did not fully love her nor enjoy her.
There is a crucial lesson for us here. If we don’t grab hold of a God who is passionately in love with us and completely devoted even in our weakness we will always struggle with intimacy and depth in our knowledge of God.
This story is extreme but it definitely uncovers a heart condition that many are struggling with.
GOD IS PASSIONATE FOR ME!
Personally, the idea that God really likes me and is madly in love with me was seldom taught as a boy growing up in the Catholic church or even after I got saved as a teenager.
Either it was not understood by my friends, teachers and pastors or it was somehow considered “cheap grace” or too juvenile.
Maybe the prevailing thought was that if taught, it would somehow make God appear weak with emotion. And a God with loving emotions does not fit too well in our western theological worldview.
The truth is, it is hard to imagine that a perfect God who completely knows me inside and out, with all of my imperfections (and there are many) is deeply in love with me.
How can perfect Love, love the imperfect? How can one who is sinless embrace one who is sinful?
The good news is that God loves me in spite of myself. The fact is, God’s love is limitless and it covers a multitude of sin. The Cross is a covering for those who receive the Man who was killed on it. Jesus became sin so I can become righteous 2 Cor. 5:21. God’s love is given and applied to me.
Jesus laid His life down because He wanted something or should I say someone.
That someone — is me!
His passion is so intense He left heaven to fulfill it. The Son of God died, fulfilled the requirements of the law, absorbed the wrath of God, conquered death, hell and the grave to have me!
And in spite of my inconsistencies, my lack, my weakness, He still chooses me and will continue to choose me with the very same passion and zeal He left heaven with!
THE GOD WHO IS UNDONE
I have God’s affections pointed right at me. He is undone. He is wildly in love with me.
God is the Ultimate Lover. His pursuit is breathtaking.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8
“we love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
No one loves me like God. No One is as passionate for me as He is. Hard to believe, but it is true.
There is no other reason for the Son to leave heaven. He endured the cross because His eyes were fixed on a wedding day. It was the joy set before Him.
Jesus is not some stoic, passionless, rule-based Savior. On the contrary, He is a fiery, affectionate lover who enjoys me and longs to be with me.
Can you give the affections of your heart to Someone who loves you so perfectly, so honestly, so deeply, so passionately and so completely?
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
If my heart does not grab the revelation of a relentless God who is passionately pursuing me, it will not be moved.
It’s like being married without touch. without communication, without intimacy.
Covenant without affection.
Commitment without affirmation.
The marriage is in trouble. At best, it’s not fulfilling. Some just “suck it up” and deal with it. Others look elsewhere.
But with God we NEVER have to look elsewhere or live unfulfilled. NEVER!
If I don’t embrace this revelation, my heart becomes embittered and I eventually sink into doing things for God out of duty, striving to be faithful and never really connecting with Him at a deep level. This way of living will not last. And for many, it hasn’t.
Exhaustion. Burnout. Sin. These eventually surface.
This is a far cry from the words of Jesus;
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10
KEEPING MY HEART ALIVE
My heart stays alive when I consistently remember and experience His passion and pursuit of me. Choosing a One Pursuit life requires this foundation.
“and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,” Colossians 3:10
When I sense my heart drifting I renew it through growing in the (experiential) knowledge of God, reminding myself of my identity in Christ and rediscovering God’s fiery heart for me.
WHAT CAN DO?
If this is all new to you, here are some resources that can get you going on this journey. I encourage you to begin reading, or even re-read some of these materials. Of course you might have your own, if so, pass on what you recommend.
Just look in scripture to find places that reveal God’s affections and emotions for you. Here are a few to get you going. Ps. 16:11; Ps 36:7-10; Ps. 139:1-18; Is. 62:2-4; Zeph. 3:17; John 17:24-26; Eph. 1:16-19; Eph. 3:16-20
FEEDBACK: Love to get your insight and thoughts on this! How do you think this view of God is vital for the believer in keeping their heart alive and maintaining a strong relationship with the Lord? What’s been your experience?