by: Jessica Hartzold
When I was sixteen or seventeen, my dad caught me trying to sneak out of the house. I had a window of our house open and just as I was getting ready to make my move, the sound of his feet coming down the creaky old steps of our home sent me running for cover under a blanket on our couch.
I have no idea how he knew something was up, but he did, and it caused him to make his way down those stairs to check on me.
I wasn’t planning to do anything good that night, and when confronted I wasn’t about to let him in on any of it. When asked what I was doing, I looked him square in the face – and lied. I made up a ridiculous excuse about why that window was open, and he and I both knew it was a lie. I never questioned whether he was going to love me after it.
My earthly father is pretty fantastic. I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He and my Mom have loved me through some mess. The love of a parent for their child is amazing. There’s nothing that can stop it, even the disrespect and lies of a rebellious teenager. We openly receive this. But when it comes to the love our Heavenly Father, that one slips us up.
We look at our shortcomings and question God’s ability to love through them EVEN though we’re told that his love for us is even stronger than the love of a parent.
Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
Right there, plain as day — no matter how incomprehensible —God’s love for us is greater. Yet we view his love has conditional – dependent on our behavior questioning, “How can it be, how
can he love me? I’ve in the blank)”
Interesting isn’t it, how the finiteness of our parents we easily ascribe limitlessness too — but the infinite God who created us, the one who SPOKE everything into existence – we ascribe limited ability.
We place limits on the God who knew us before we were placed in our mother’s womb, and we think things like:
“I’m divorced, he can’t love me.”
“I’m a liar, he can’t love me.”
“I’m addicted, he can’t love me.”
“I had an affair, he can’t love me.” “I’m a failure in every way, he can’t love me.”
Somehow, we have painted this picture of God as this austere judge. We imagine him poised ready to pounce at any excuse we give him — but that’s simply not true. He isn’t watching us tip-toe the line between sin and righteousness waiting for us to mess up, No, — he sees us tip-toe that line and yearns for us to choose obedience — and when we don’t — his love doesn’t draw the line and say, “No — more!” No, his love for us says, “My blood is enough to cover this one too.” And there he waits arms wide open, warm, compassionate, full of patience and love, waiting for us to accept the truth — that his love is unconditional, and his desire, is for us – US no matter our mess, to bathe us in forgiveness, grace, mercy and lavish us with his love. His love covers a multitude of sin.
I wonder today, if you’ve placed limits on God’s love for you? I wonder if you’ve painted a false image in your mind of our Heavenly Father? I wonder today if you might be ready to step from that dark shadow of doubt that hangs over you and into the marvelous light of the love of our Father?
If that’s where you are, today is a great day to make that step to receive his love. Allow yourself to be reminded that God chose you from the very beginning. He chose you before he placed you in your mother’s womb. He chose you when he hung on the cross and suffered the unimaginable — He CHOSE YOU and now He waits. He waits for you to decide whether you’re going to choose His love — or not. My encouragement for you in this moment is that you choose to accept the lavishing love of our Heavenly Father. The love that beckons you to experience him in a deeper way as he reveals to you a love that is so extravagant that as it is poured inside of you it creates an overflow that pours out onto all that around you, and becomes hands that reach for others drawing them to him through you. Now is the time, and today is the day, make up your mind to stop pushing away the One who yearns to pull you close.
Jessica Hartzold is a wife and mother of four. She lives, breathes, and loves the beautiful chaos brought on by working full time outside of the home and raising energetic little ones. In her free time she can be found chasing her children around the yard of their home in the rural community of Danvers. She and her family attend the Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Bloomington where she teaches a kindergarten Sunday school class.