Last weekend I attended the MOPS International leadership conference, which has affectionately been named "MomCon." While I was there, I heard from amazing speakers, bought life changing books, and felt a rekindling from God that I so desperately needed. But, as I reflect over my weekend, the most powerful moment was in the car ride, on the way home. The entire ride home was such a blessing to me...each woman sharing their reflections and their take-home points. We poured out our hearts about sin, struggles, encouragement and hopes for the future of our ministry. But, THE MOMENT came for me out of one simple sentence from my friend Jenny.
I do not know what we were talking about or how it came up, but Jenny simply said, "Oh I love Jesus so much."
Now, back when I in high school, while most girls were scribbling their boyfriends' names on the front cover of their notebooks, I was writing my Lord's name down. In fact, I remember one time in tenth grade health, the student teacher looked down at my nerdy front row desk with my notebook covered in hearts and the name of Jesus and asked me who "Jesse" was. I was horrified, because an upperclassman named Jesse was in my class, and I quietly responded, "It says Jesus, not Jesse." Oh, I was so in love with Jesus. I would write his name, daydream about him, risk public humiliation for him.
When I heard Jenny proclaim her love for Jesus, it startled me. When was the last time I had proclaimed out-loud with the passion that she had that I desperately loved my Savior?
Fast forward a couple days later, to a typical Monday night at our house. We were eating dinner, and my Papa Pete was spending time with us while my Gram was at Bingo. Papa loves to talk about the past and his horses and the work he did logging the woods when he was young. He was telling me that once he had built a loving and caring relationship with his horses, they were so easy to keep in line. He said, "It was like their love for me made them want to please me."
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Somehow along the way I went from a girl passionately obsessed with Jesus, the man, his character and his love, to a woman who was stuck in the rut of obedience. Obedience does not earn love. In a slow, quiet change, I went from experiencing Jesus and his love to trying to earn it. I had forgotten that, unlike the people in this world, Jesus will love me no matter what I do. I traded in simply loving and being loved for the feeling that I had to earn God's love. What a bum deal! I had quit allowing myself to be swept away by God's love and just letting me proclaim for the world how much I love Jesus. And the thing is, I forgot that when you are completely smitten with your Savior, obedience just pours from you...not because you feel like you have to obey God, but simply because your love makes you want to obey him.
I'm going to be really honest here and say that I'm not sure what my next step is. Should I just grab the nearest notebook and doodle Jesus' name like a school girl? Maybe? Perhaps I should just sit quietly and meditate on the love of Christ. It probably wouldn't hurt. I truthfully am so caught up in "being good enough to be loved," that I'm not sure how to "just be loved."
The next steps for me, just like most things in my life, will require bravery, trust, and faith. I desperately long for Jesus to sweep me away in His love and I want to lose myself in the wonder of it all. And, I'm pretty sure, just by the way I feel right now, that's all Jesus needs me to do...is to want to love Him more. I don't have to do anything else. "Doing" is how I got in this mess in the first place.
I'm interested in hearing from you---what do you do to increase your intimacy with Christ? Do you feel loved no matter what? Or, like me, have you been felt trapped in the "earning God's love trap?" Please, feel free to share and we can discuss, encourage, and pray for one another.