This summer I took the kids to Topsail Beach for a day trip. It was a perfect day for playing in the ocean and digging in the sand and just taking in all the sunbeams. I am always taken back by the ocean as if I forget what it looks like after being away so long. It’s just so big and we’re so small as we wade into this massive body of water, hopping up as we go through the waves. And finally, we get past the shock of the cold water – you how it feels so cold around your mid-section? And then you know you just have to take the full plunge to stop the torture. But then, what was cold moments ago, finally seems warm and comfortable and refreshing.
“This is how big my love is for you.”
While we were out in the water, I just allowed my body to float with the waves, rising up and down, not trying to control anything, just taking it all in – the water, the sky, the wind and sun, and the sounds of the ocean. It was a lovely place to be. And as I floated in the ocean water, I felt the Lord impress on me “This is how big my love is for you.” He was referring to the ocean water. In that moment, I noticed every part of me was in contact with the water, His Love. It was a tangible feeling of being wrapped up in Him. And as I continued to meditate on His words, I realized the expanse of this Love was so big I couldn’t comprehend it. God’s love is just like the ocean. We can only see as far as the horizon, but we know the ocean extends beyond what our eyes can see. We know the ocean is deep, but we can only see the surface and can’t fully comprehend its depth. And to even try to wrap our minds around the amount of water that’s in the ocean, we truly cannot comprehend it’s volume. And here I was completely encased in His massive love.
As I pondered His words and took in all the sensations of this enveloping love, I remembered the Apostle Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19:
“14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom [l]every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the [m]saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
This has become the prayer of my heart lately: to be rooted and grounded in the Love of Christ, and to know in my heart a Love that surpasses my knowledge and to be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Every time God reveals Himself to me in some way, be it His favor, healing, deliverance, provision, protection, or receiving revelation of Him in His Word, my heart knowledge of His Love becomes greater and greater, and I find myself being more fortified in His Love. But I believe there is no end to that revelation of His Love for us. He has truly given us a Love relationship that has no limits. It’s breadth and length and height and depth are so great, just as the ocean surpasses the horizon and the depths go where man can’t, we can always continue growing in His love if we want to and never reach the end. His Love causes us to respond by wanting more intimacy with Him, which may cause us to wade a little deeper in those waters, going further away from the land where we can have a footing in our mental understanding of love, the human kind. The kind of love we feel and that appeals to our senses. But God’s love is not that way. It takes heart revelation to be able to abandon our senses, and know a love that is far beyond what we feel. And it’s not just one revelation, it’s a life-long series of revelations that build upon each other. And it’s not based on what’s happening TO us, but rather who is living IN us.
Here a Little, There a Little
Even the Apostles preached the love of God beyond what they themselves had experienced or had revelation. In Philippians 3:12-13, Paul says “Not that I have already obtained it [10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection] or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He preached the fullness and Love of God not because he already had the full revelation of it, but because God promised it, and so Paul knew there was more awaiting him beyond the horizon; he was just a heart revelation away from going deeper and wider in God’s Love.
He also says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Even in Isaiah 28, God expresses our process of learning about Him as precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little. If He gave us the entire ocean to drink all at once, we couldn’t handle it, so He feeds us a little here and little there, building in us a greater revelation of His love, teaching us to trust Him and know Him as a partner to walk through life with. And it’s this love relationship that inevitably results in our supernatural transformation into His likeness, which then causes us to be able to love like Him.
So while God blessed me with this lovely experience in the ocean, that’s just what it was – an experience. I love experiences! Experiences are great and God wants you to experience Him. Experiences can propel us forward in our faith or just be a sweet reminder that God is near, but we can’t expect to walk with God solely depending on experiences. Experiences come and go and it’s at those times in between when we don’t feel anything, or maybe God just feels so far away, that we must choose to simply walk by faith, without all our senses being appealed to just knowing (believing) that we are loved by God by faith alone. In order to believe we’re loved though, we must be fully convinced He loves us without any doubt, and without any conditions.
“The only way to measure God’s love for you is to look at the Finished work of the Cross.”
So How Do We Know We’re Loved By God?
The answer is the Cross. The only way to measure God’s love for you is to look at the Finished work of the Cross.
“For God so loved the world [you], that He gave His only begotten Son [just for you].” (John 3:16) “… God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom 5:8-10)
Think about this. How much do you love your child? You’d do anything to save his life and protect him, wouldn’t you? Would you give up his life so that someone else you love could live? What about a great hero? Or Mother Teresa? Probably not. If you wouldn’t give up your child’s life for someone you love or deem worthy and deserving, you surely wouldn’t give his life up for an old boss you hated working for, or that relative that always creates turmoil in the family, or the bully in 8th grade, let alone the Hitlers and Castros of the world, even ISIS. But God did! He gave His only begotten son, His beloved son, so “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus died for people that would choose to never know him, with the hope that they would. That’s a love worth knowing and experiencing. That’s a love we as humans cannot comprehend. And it doesn’t stop there….
We Need Heart Revelation!
The more heart revelation of the Cross we have, the deeper our heart knowledge of the Love of God, and so the fullness of God fills us up. We move from a mental knowledge of God’s love, to believing He loves us just as He loves His son Jesus (John 17:23). When we know we have peace with God, we ourselves are filled with peace and no longer fear (1 John 4:18). When we know how much we’re forgiven and that there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus, and God is not keeping a list of our wrong-doings (Mark 3:28, Rom 8:1, 1 Cor 13:5), we are filled with forgiveness for others. When we know our only source of righteousness is Christ and not our works, we are filled with the ability to not judge others or be easily offended by them (Rom 1:17). When we know we’ve been resurrected IN Christ and that as Christ is so are we in this world (1 John 4:17), we are filled up with all the attributes of God and the same power and authority Jesus has at the right hand of God’s throne (John 14:12-14, Heb 8:1). When you know He counts every hair on your head and he cares about the smallest of things having to do with you, you are filled with the intimate love of a Father (Psa 139:17, Luke 12:7). When you know that through faith in Christ, you went from servant to son and were adopted into His family, you are filled with a sense of belonging (Rom 8:15). When we see God as our Shepherd, we will be filled with the security of His provision and no longer be in want, but be in His rest (Psa 23). When we realize the value and worth of God’s son is the price He paid in exchange for us, we are ourselves are filled with worth and value. And the list goes on….. This is the revelatory precept upon precept, glory to glory, love relationship that builds over time with our Father, our Papa, our Abba, our Daddy. And the more we abide in and behold Jesus, this person of Grace, His Love changes us, transforming us into His image! You become who you focus on!
We Must BELIEVE We Are Loved!
1 John 4:16-18 says “We have come to know [a knowledge grounded on personal experience] and have believed [to think to be true, to be persuaded of, place confidence in] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides [remains or dwells] in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
It’s not enough to just know that God loves you, but you must believe it too! You come to believe through practice, through renewing your mind (Rom 12:2). You have to practice being loved by reminding yourself and being conscious that God loves you even when you don’t feel lovable. John did this by calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” You can do that too! And because God promises He’ll never leave you nor forsake you, His love never stops being directed at you. Ever!
At the very moment we place our faith in Jesus, the place where we abide, our dwelling place, changes from “in the world” to “In Christ”, but this fact has to become real to you. God is Love. To abide in Christ, is to abide in Love. So a big part of abiding in Christ, is practicing God’s love for you and believing it in your heart. So you must train your heart in His love for you.
Abiding in God’s love is much like basking in those ocean waters. It’s being there on purpose. It’s feeding on Jesus, meditating on Him and allowing His identity to become yours. It’s allowing yourself to be held and loved by your Father and resting in His strength and good intentions toward you. It’s being conscious of how massively big His love is just for you, experiencing and savoring it, and being changed by it. It’s having your whole identity wrapped up in His love for you, and knowing that both will never change. And it’s knowing that God has an endless supply of His love for you and not only desires to give it to you, but He already did give it to you… at the cross.