For the past 7 years, my view of God’s love was extremely distorted. I felt like I had to meet a certain standard of obedience in order for Him to truly love me. I was that girl running in circles, angry that I wasn’t getting anywhere in life. Oh, but the Lord was patient in my ignorance. He was patient with me as I sat crying pitifully in my room. He was gentle with me. Slowly, the Lord began to show me how deep and passionate His love is for me. He taught me to stop trying to win His love, but to simply sit before Him, love Him, and let Him pour out His love for me. From the very beginning, He was pursuing my heart. Learning this was a long process, to say the least. The Lord has to daily remind me of how He feels about me. Aren’t we all like this? We struggle to believe that a God could really love us in our sin and failures. So before I encourage you to be patient with others and to genuinely love them, I beg you to search your heart and ask yourself if you truly believe that you are deeply loved by Jesus. We can not love others and show them patience if we first do not believe that we are loved.
As I began to grasp His love, I realized that I was still falling into sin. I was still messing up and this made me mad. I felt like He was annoyed with me for completely failing. I hated disappointing God. I wanted to do right and please Him. Then I came across a video by Matt Chandler and let me tell you; the Lord spoke so clearly through Him. Chandler used the analogy of parents celebrating the every step of their child. They aren’t angry when their child faceplants into the ground. No, they celebrate the steps and pick them back up. Somehow I thought that God wasn’t a good father. It was as though God said, “Emily, do you really think your earthly father loves you more than I do?” God is not angry with us when we fail; no, He is exceedingly patient with us as we stumble through life. He never stops loving and picking us back up. So if you find yourself feeling defeated because you can’t seem to take two steps without failing, remember that God celebrates those two steps and will be right by your side to pick you back up and cheer you on. He isn’t disappointed in your mess-ups. He is your Father; He loves you, His child.
And so in order to stop failing, I resolved to try really hard. I would pack my bag of highlighters, pens, books, note cards, Bible, and journal. Then, I would drive to Starbucks, order a chai tea latte, put in my headphones, listen to Oceans by Hillsong United, and read my Bible like good Christians are supposed to do. I would try so hard to be joyful, patient and kind; instead, I ended up face first in the dirt, sobbing and angry that I couldn’t share my candy with a sibling without feeling bitter. Still, Jesus was patient with my pathetic self. He picked me up and began teaching me that He doesn’t want anything from me; He simply wants me. He taught me to sit before Him and love Him. And let me tell you, it was the most freeing feeling on planet earth. Falling in love with my Savior was pure joy. However, we often get so caught up in being patient, being kind, being compassionate, forgetting that we can not simply be those things. We are broken, small, fragile humans in need of a gracious and patient God to mold us into someone more like Him. We desperately need Jesus to walk before us and help us live a life worthy of the gospel. We are so incapable of loving on our own. But, don’t feel overwhelmed, thinking that you have to muster up the will to be patient. You can rest, knowing that the Holy Spirit will help you love. In order to walk with the spirit, we have to let the Lord pour into us. So let’s be men and women of God, devoted to loving God and spending time in the word. We have to steal time away with the lover of our hearts. As we fall more and more in love with our Savior, His attributes will begin to flow out of us, because we become who we behold. Also, we can’t forget that we were shown an indescribable amount of mercy, grace, and patience. With the help of Jesus, we are called to do the same to others. We are loved and valued. When we are secure in His love, then we can go out and pour into others. Y’all, we are the sons and daughters of God, loved more than we could ever fathom. Let that truth drive us to go push back the darkness as we live in love, patience, and compassion.
1 Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Just think of where we came from. God rescued us from the deepest pit, the strongest chains, the fiercest waters. He met us there and extended grace and patience. I love looking back to the darkest places of my life and remembering God’s faithfulness and patience with me. When everyone else left me, He stayed with me during the night. He was kind. He listened to my heart. He helped me surrender the deepest and darkest areas of my life to Him. He came in and saw beauty in ashes. We are the best examples of God’s patience towards us. I love how Paul so beautifully describes it:
1 Timothy 1:13-16 “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life.”
We were shown an immense amount of love and patience in our sin, so lets do the same for others. I believe that lives will be forever changed when believers live lives of grace and patience, remembering the grace and patience that was bestowed on them in the darkest of night.
Okay, but let’s be realistic; life is hard. People say and do things that get under our skin. And nine times out of ten, I want to say what is on my mind. I hate being wronged. It makes me so mad. Then, Jesus points me to every time He was wronged, yet did not relent. He was patient. He saw beyond the situation and looked into their heart. He saw their story. So when you are tempted to speak your mind, look to Jesus and the example He set. Ask Him to help you remember that they have a story. They have their own storms and painful seasons of life. We are all just a bunch of hurting and broken people that are desperately seeking love and acceptance. The world is looking for love, so let’s show them love. Patient people stand out. We have the opportunity to be a part of seeing lives changed as we live lives devoted to loving people and showing them patience when it’s hardest. Get excited because following Jesus is a wild and thrilling adventure. We are His and get to be a part of seeing God breathe hope into the broken places.
~ Emily Hoffman, guest author