My Olivia is the best at expressing herself through hand-made cards. She is forever sitting on her bed with paper and colored pencils strewn about, penning a masterpiece for the lucky recipient. On my birthday she made me a card that had a picture of her beautiful self pasted on one side and on the other it said: “Dear Mom, I love the way you love me, you take care of me when I am sick and you love me when I am mean. Happy Birthday” That has been 6 months ago and I still get teary-eyed when I read it. A simple yet profound statement poured out from the heart of a child who knows that she is loved.
What an awesome feeling to rest in that security. I have lived most of my life under the burden that if I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t worthy of being loved. It was a hard lesson learned at an early age that set in stone a mentality which has directed way too much of my time and efforts in 41 years. Many days I have found myself feeling hopeless and ashamed, failing to meet the standard of others, convincing myself that if I just do it better next time, I would somehow merit the affirmation and affection I so deeply desired. I can tell you now, from much experience, that those expectations are far too high for anyone to achieve.
As we are approaching Easter, we understand that this week is called the Holy week. Simply stating, it is the last week that Jesus spent on earth as a man. He has done miracles and wonders, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead and now he makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The time has come for him to finish the course that he set out on when he came wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. My thought is do we really understand what His purpose was? Do we know what God was saying when he allowed his only son to be brutally beaten, nailed to a cross and crucified? Many churches over-teach the message of salvation as being fire insurance. Get saved and you won’t go to hell. (I actually detest that terminology). News alert – we live in an era where most people don’t even believe in a biblical hell. If that is all that we get out of it, we surely are missing the greatest message ever preached.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful that when my life is over on this earth, I have made a decision that secures me an eternity to spend with my father God. However, the most exciting part of the Gospel for me is that in the death and resurrection of Jesus I have finally found the love that I so desperately searched for. The Bible clearly tells me that God didn’t wait for me to get everything right to love me. Instead, before the foundations of the world existed He looked thousands of years ahead, saw me at my lowest point and decided then that He would show how great His love was for me by sending His only son to pay a price that should have been mine to pay. (Romans 5 and Ephesians 2 – some of my favorites!). A love that doesn’t wax or wane with the years, that doesn’t increase with successes and fade with failures, that doesn’t depend on whether I do it better next time or say, “get it right or your out of here!” But a great love that says no matter what you do, you are my child and I love you.
I have been “saved” for 17 years now and as bad as I hate to admit it, I’ve had numerous foul ups. At times I was the perfect Christian (or so I thought) and other times I would even be embarrassed for anyone to know that I ever proclaimed to know God (and I won’t go into the gory details..ok). I can honestly tell you that it has been at the lowest points in my life that I’ve needed and felt the love of God more strongly than when I was feasting high on the hog of spiritual perfection. With my few accomplishments, all my flub-ups and some serious nose-dives, God loves me as much as He did from the beginning as He will until the very end. He takes care of me no matter what and is always there for me. For someone like me, that truth brings a security that can’t possibly be expressed in words. For you, whether you have known God for years or have never even heard His message, I can simply sum it all up by saying this: “Dear Father God, I love the way you love me. You take care of me when I am sick and you love me when I am mean. Happy Easter!”