It’s a beautiful Monday in Brownwood, Texas. It almost feels like fall is on the way. Over the weekend, I was blessed to be able to attend a women’s conference held in San Marcos. My pastor’s wife and several of my friends and I traveled together and learned many things. We had a lovely trip with the Word, delicious snacks (I had my first slice of pie in over a year), and swimming.
The Southwest Texas Pentecostal Church of God hosts an annual women’s conference, and this year, Eileen Jayne showed what it means to serve! I was so impressed with the entire event. The title was: The Great Love Adventure. Several speakers taught about Rebekah and her covenant with Isaac and the love adventures of their children as well. God pursues us and these stories remind me of Jesus and His pursuit of us.
We are His church. The Church is not a building; the Church is His group of people. The Bible calls us His Bride. When Abraham’s servant sought a wife for Isaac, he sent gifts and he had faith. The servant prayed and was answered immediately, and he acted upon his answer and walked knowing that the God of the universe intended good things for His people. We are called to believe that God is and that He rewards those who seek Him. He so deeply loves us, and He wants us to believe that He intends good for us. Rebekah was chosen, and given gifts, and adorned with jewelry (before she even met Isaac), identifying her as a daughter of status, and a wife of worth.
This life is an adventure of love. We fall down and we fall short. Bad things do happen. It was 20 years before Rebekah had any children. They struggled. The culture was different back then, of course, but we can understand that for a woman to not bear children, she would have had terrible heartache. She might have questioned her purpose and her value. The Bible doesn’t say. It does say that Isaac pleaded with the Lord on Rebekah’s behalf, and that the Lord granted his plea. For 20 years they waited for children. And the Lord blessed them with twins!
I don’t aim to retell the story. I encourage readers to study it out for themselves (Abraham sends the servant out in Genesis chapter 24). But I do want to share some of the revelation of the goodness of God’s love that was presented at this conference. God pursues us and every Bible story is another example of how His intent is always love for us. Sometimes we experience pain and unexpected grief, but God is always faithful. He doesn’t always answer us when we want Him to, or how we think He should, but He always answers.
I had a rough childhood.
I struggled with abandonment and fear. I was adopted right before I turned 3, and I felt like I was not worthy of love for my entire childhood, what I can remember of it. I battled those feelings of rejection poorly, often fighting against the very people who did love me. I would pull away in an attempt to avoid future heartache. I would sabotage relationships so that I could prevent the rejection that I was sure I would eventually face. I rejected God because I didn’t believe He could love me. Deep down, I decided I wasn’t worth it, so when I heard about how good He was and how much He loved me, I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t even believe He was real.
My parents are good people. They made mistakes, but all parents do. I made it very difficult for them because I lived in constant fear. Fear of being abandoned again, fear of loss and death were present every single day. Fear affected my schoolwork. I was an overachiever because I thought that might keep me safe. If I impressed my teachers, I would avoid rejection. When that didn’t prevent negative things from happening, I swung the other way and completely defied them. I deliberately avoided classes or tests, not caring for the consequences, because that gave me control over the result. You cannot reject me if I run away from you first.
Such was my life through adolescence. I was miserable. I wanted to die. I knew that I didn’t have a place or a purpose. I would wish for ‘home’, which wasn’t a physical place, but a feeling of belonging. It wasn’t until God supernaturally proved Himself to me that I finally opened my eyes and began to see that perhaps I was worth something. Perhaps my mother’s rejection of me was not a representation of my value, but was a reflection of her pain and human flaws.
It still took years for me to accept. Once He started the process, I didn’t overnight ‘get it’ in my heart. Through friends, family, and especially my husband, He has shown over and over that I have worth. I am worthy to be alive. I am worthy to be loved. I am worthy to give love and receive love. I no longer want to die.
More importantly, I no longer live in fear. I am not afraid of failure. I am no longer afraid of rejection. My God will never reject me. No matter what I do, how horrible I act, or how stupid I am, He will never tell me I cannot be His, because He bought and paid for me at the cross. He’s already paid the debt of my sins and failures. It was done thousands of years before I was born. I have nothing to do with it other than to accept it. I can’t change His mind about what He’s already done.
I had a vision, of sorts, a couple years ago, while a visiting preacher was talking. I don’t remember what he said exactly, but he asked us all to pray that God would show us how much He loves us. I bowed my head and I prayed. While I was praying and thinking, I had a clear picture in my mind of my youngest daughter, a toddler, waddling up to me and hugging me. She just clumsily grabbed me and I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her into my lap.
As I was picturing this, the preacher said, “Whatever it is that you’re picturing right now, God wants you to know that that’s how He loves you.” I just wept. My daughter makes me mad all the time. She’s got tons of attitude and she doesn’t listen. She is rude to her siblings. And I would literally die for her. I would cross oceans for her. I would slay enemies for her. I would submit myself to torture for her. And I wouldn’t even think twice about it. She can’t prove her worth to me. She’s worth more than I have words for, simply because she is. Nothing will ever change that.
That’s how much the Creator of the universe loves me? Yes. If the Bible is true, and if my experiences with God have actually happened, then yes, that’s exactly how much He loves me, and He proved it at Calvary. Beautifully, He proved it in a fleshy way so that I might grasp it, but I believe His love is even more than I can fathom. My tiny human brain cannot fully comprehend the magnitude of His love.
That preacher didn’t know he was talking to me. He didn’t know what I pictured. But God used a man to show me that the love that I have for Maddie, my daughter, is just the “tip of the iceberg” type of glimpse into the love that He has for me and for you.
I’m on a Great Love Adventure with God. He has paved the way. He decided my worth. He did all the work to bring me where I am and ultimately bring me fully into His kingdom and His presence. He is my Safe Place. He will never turn me away from His love.
That’s why I’m free. I’m free to be who He created me to be. I am free to love, and I am free to be loved.