This week I questioned God’s love. Let me be a little more specific. I questioned God’s love for me. Believing God loves others is easy. Believing God loves me is a bridge that I thought I’d crossed in a previous decade – a literal bridge.
In the late 1990’s I had just taught a lesson about Israel’s scathing accusation that God didn’t love them. God was perplexed and downright irritated. He had destroyed a nation that refused to give them religious freedom. Then obligated himself to sacrifice his firstborn son to pay for their freedom. What made them think he didn’t love them?
I knew why Israel felt unloved. God promised to fulfill the promises he made to their ancestors if they followed him. Instead of receiving the fulfillment of those promises, they were stuck in a desert with supplies running dangerously low. Matters were complicated when ten of their leaders returned from scouting out the promise land and recommended they return to Egypt. Discouraged and afraid, the Israelites weep all night “God doesn’t love us!”
I know how Israel felt. At the time I taught that lesson twenty years had elapsed, and I thought I was at the border of the Jordan River about to cross over into my Promised Land. Instead of encouraging me, the words and deeds of leaders at my church had thoroughly discouraged me.
My husband and I were on our way home from church. When we reached the top of the Huey Long Bridge, the same scathing accusation made by Israel came out of my mouth, “God doesn’t love me.” That statement suddenly woke me to a frightening realization. I was guilty of the same sin that robbed Israel of the promises of God and kept them in a wilderness until they perished. As we exited the bridge, I repented and purposed never to doubt God’s love again.
Fast forward to the present and I found myself slipping in the same slop. “How does God love me when he didn’t do what he promised me.” I didn’t ask God for this thing. It wasn’t my idea. He initiated it. I’ve waited longer than Moses.
Waiting doesn’t disturb me. Patience is a foundation of the Christian faith. That my efforts to obey God have resulted in little more than a lifetime of waiting does. The things God said to me prevented me from doing other things with my life. Even more disturbing is the thought I could have done those other things while I waited on him. We are our own worst enemy.
The Sunday after my relapse into Israel’s error, I attended a Pentecostal church service. During the song service, the singing stopped and the congregation grew quiet. A woman standing in front of me spoke a prophesy*, “Don’t measure my love the way the world measures love. My love is pure like a gentle wind that flows in and out of your life, so gentle you often don’t perceive its presence.”
God rebukes whom he loves, and I consider myself rebuked. God loves me. Things did not happen the way I thought they would, but that is not an accurate measure of God’s love. It is an accurate measure that I did not understand the things God said to me. If you are weary of waiting, don’t question God’s love. His love is pure flowing in and out of our lives whether we perceive it or not.
*Pentecostal’s practice the gifts of the Spirit according to 1 Corinthians 12-14. The woman’s prophesy was a message from God to the church.