I LOVE to read. Really, I do. And, I read a lot, like 3-4 books A DAY. The only problem is, I usually have about 20 pairs of eyes staring at me as I read. Which kind of limits what I get to read to things that have few words and lots of pictures. And that's okay with me, most of the time. I adore children's books. My very favorite book of all time, for children or adults, is How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.
Sometimes, though, I like to read something for me. I don't really have a specific type of book I like or any particular author. I don't really care for romance novels, but other than that, I'm pretty open. It just depends on my mood at the time. Usually something just jumps out at me from the shelf and I take it home. That's kind of how I found the book I'm reading now, He Loves Me: Learning To Live In The Father's Affection by Wayne Jacobsen.
Actually, I read another of his books a few months ago and really enjoyed it. I plan on doing some posts about it sometime later because it had a pretty big affect on me. But, I wasn't really paying attention to author's when I picked up this book. The title caught my eye first, so I picked it up and started reading the back. Then, I read the first page and I was hooked. So far, I'm only on chapter 3, just because I don't have a lot of time for reading, but I'm finding it very interesting so far. In this post, I'm going to share some of my thoughts after reading the first chapter. I hope you can get something out of it as well. And, if you want, pick up your own copy and let me know what you think too.
The book opens with the game children play with flower petals "He loves me, he loves me not."
I remember doing this as a little girl. If, as I was picking the petals off one by one, I noticed that it was going to end on "he loves me not" I would "forget" what I was on and change it to come out the way I wanted. The book talks about how sometimes as adults we still play that game with God and his love for us. When things are going well in our lives, we assume that we are in God's will and He is blessing us. When our circumstances change, we believe that it must be due to something we have done (or not done) to make Him angry, and so he is punishing us.
I have played that game with God often in my life. When things have been going well, I've felt very confident in God's love for me. But as soon as something went wrong, I was very quick to doubt God's love. I would think of all the things in my life that could have caused God to become angry with me or not care about me. I lived constantly in the uncertainty of whether or not what I was doing was going to be good enough to make God love me and what the punishment might be if it were not. I always felt like God had me on a yo-yo:
*We moved back to Stillwater, "bought" our first house, and I got a job as a teacher in Stillwater-He loves me...
*Job turns out not to be what I thought it would be. Landlord fails to give the money we are paying for the house to the bank and the bank takes the house-He loves me not.
*Are able to spend a couple of months in the house without paying rent to recover the deposit we made. Have plenty of money to cover moving expenses, etc. Transfer to a different school that I like much better.-He loves me.
*Van breaks down. Spend $400 just to find out that it can't be fixed. Have to break our commitment to being debt free and borrow money for a new van.-He loves me not.
You see, through all of these things, I was looking for God to solve my problems and take care of me in the way that I thought best. When HE chose not to, the only reason I could come up with was that He must not care for me or want what was best for me. I was defining God through my circumstances and not seeing the bigger picture. I do fully believe that God is completely in control. And sometimes, he does bring things into our lives or allow things to happen so that we can learn from our experiences. He wants to draw us closer to him and allow him to act in our best interests, even when we don't understand at the time. He CAN see the big picture. He knows what's coming and what will be best for us.
Looking back, I can see now, how all the steps in the journey to where I am today have been necessary. There were lessons I needed to learn that couldn't have come about any other way-mostly because I'm stubborn and have to learn things the hard way.
When we moved into the new house, we were sure that it was God's will for us because "He opened all the doors for us to be able to do it." Well, not exactly. We begged and borrowed and made some poor choices to get into that house. We fiddled with the numbers on paper to convince ourselves that we would be able to afford it. So, when it didn't work out, it wasn't God punishing us or not caring. God was working in our best interest to save us from the mistake we had made. He used our circumstances to teach us a lesson and bring us closer to Him.
Over the last few months, my heart has opened to see how God has been with me through all of these circumstances-good and bad. He has led me to the place where I no longer question His love when things go wrong, but instead lean on His love to get me through. I can see how God has been preparing my heart for what has been the hardest few weeks of my life. Through all the pain that has come into my life since losing my dad nearly three weeks ago, I have never once questioned God's love for me or wondered what I might have done to bring this about. I haven't felt abandoned by God as I would have before. In fact, I have never felt closer to Him. But, it's not because God is different or because He loves me more than before. It is I who have changed. I have run to God and asked him to carry me through this time and I have allowed Him to do it.
Each and every time in the last three weeks when I have asked Him to wrap me in his love and carry me through, He has. He held me up as I walked with my mom, grandpa, and uncle in the cemetary choosing a resting place for my dad. He stood beside me in a room filled with caskets and gave me peace in choosing the right one. He carried me when my feet couldn't walk up to see my dad in the funeral home for the first time and helped my heart to understand that what I was seeing there was not my dad, only a body. My dad was already at home with Him. He walked with me through the visitation the night before the service and gave me comfort in seeing how many lives my dad touched. He gave me a smile to share with those who came and precious memories to talk about. And, He wrapped his love around me during the funeral. He is the only reason that I have made it through this far and that I will continue to make it through.
So, no longer do I need to play the "He loves me. He loves me not" game with God's love. I've reached the last petal and found the true answer. HE LOVES ME!