Loved. Cherished. His.
I had worked so hard all year to get Straight A’s on my report card. My dad had made me a promise. If I worked hard to get Straight A’s, he would take me to a special restaurant, just the two of us, on a date night to celebrate. My dad never did stuff like that. I mean, never. Most of the time, I just was ignored by him, so this felt like my moment. As I proudly took him my fifth-grade report card, I was met with a drunken stupor that assaulted me, it was like being splashed with a bucket of cold water.
I never said that.
What? Of course, he did! That’s why I worked so hard for the entire last year! Instead of riding my bike after school with the neighbor kids, I studied maps for social studies. Every night for the entire school year, I studied and studied and studied. I was going to earn time with my father. Surely after fulfilling my part of the obligation, he would fulfill his.
You’re so selfish. You would rather make me spend my money on just you instead of our family.
Even now, I can feel my 5th-grade little body, heart racing, hot tears forming.
We never went out to dinner. In fact, as an adult, I still have never visited the restaurant that I had picked out to celebrate as our special place. Even driving past it now makes my heart rate increase.
I learned something that day that I carried with me through to adulthood: I would never be able to work hard enough to get my father’s attention.
As an adult, this thread was deeply woven into the culture of my life, even in my relationship with God. I have always been a hard worker. Rarely have I had just one paid job at a time. Every moment of every day, I have lived with this sense that “every moment matters.” And while that’s true, it doesn’t mean that every moment should be consumed by work. At one point in my life, I was working 80+ hours a week, in school full time, and raising a family. Sleep? What’s that? I could sleep when I was dead.
For many of us, 2020 became a year where we were forced to slow down. For me, it became a season to reflect on the reality of how I was living my life. And despite the fact that I was not working nearly as hard as I had in previous seasons, the voice of the Father became more clear. It was as if all the time I spent trying to “earn time with my Father,” was keeping me from Him. It wasn’t until I slowed down enough to listen that I could hear the echo of His voice. That I was loved. That I was cherished. That I was His.
In case you didn’t know, let me be the one to share something with you: You are loved immeasurably by a God who sees all your work. He recognizes everything you are doing. And while I do not doubt that everything you are doing is amazing, it’s not what will “earn you time with your Father.” There is absolutely nothing we could ever do that would earn us that. Instead, it’s this gift of grace that He gives us, simply because we are His child.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1a
We have access to our Father because He is our Father. And because He loves us. That may be hard to grasp sometimes, I know it is for me. When I first read that verse, I didn’t have a good concept for the word lavished. I learned that it comes from a word that refers to a torrent, as in a torrent of rain.
Have you ever been stuck in a torrent of rain? I have. And I was drenched down to my underwear. There was not one speck of me that wasn’t covered in rainwater.
Sis, that’s a small example of how God loves us. There is not one speck of us that He doesn’t love. It’s who He is. There is nothing we could ever do to stop that or change that. It’s this amazing gift that we have through Jesus, a gift called grace.
So many of us live lives of striving, thinking we have to earn the love of the Father. But the reality is, we already have it. We always did. It’s why He sent Jesus so that we could always walk in this place of knowing we are loved.
He wants that for you. And sis? So do I.
Things to Ponder:
There is nothing you could ever do to earn God’s love. Nothing. And there is nothing you could ever do to remove God’s love. Nothing. Love is who He is. And loved is who You are.
Things to Pray:
As we work through some of these desires, there may be a sense that you are disconnected from the content, that some of these things just don’t apply to you. If that’s the case, then please reach out, I would love to pray with you. But the reality is, you don’t need me to pray. God is already longing for you to just talk to Him about it. Ask Him to make these things a reality in your own life, to experience Him in a very real and tangible way.
Until next week,
In what ways have you been striving to “earn time” with God?
How does it make you feel to think that you are loved because of who God is? Can you believe that at a soul level? Why or Why not?