Treasures old and new

Jesus loves me.

I’m sure you’re very familiar with these words.  The simple, sing-song-y tune has been sung by children in multiple church Sunday school basements and popular films and books for years.

For me, it had become almost too familiar.

I’ve heard it so often, sung it so many times that it had blended into the background.  Like wallpaper.  Soon, I wasn’t able to even see it any more.  It’s was just there, in the backdrop available but unexciting.

Even now as I write this, I can feel the familiarity of those words and only hope I haven’t lost the reader to a yawn.

But that’s the thing about these pithy Christian truths.  They aren’t new or titillating but rather old, familiar and often taken for granted.

Pardon me for a few moments as I lapse into a very personal experience.  But for this post, I think it’s important that I do.

A few weeks ago, I had this crazy dream about a friend.  And in that dream I was seeing her through the eyes of Jesus.

And what I saw was breathtaking.  Wow! Did he love her!  Delighted by her, His eyes followed her everywhere she went in the room, and when He approached her, He reached out with His hands to cup her face and just stared at her smiling, His eyes alight with the deepest love.

But, in the dream, she turned away.  She didn’t trust it, and it hurt Him.

In the dream, as my friend turned away, I saw a lot of myself in her distrust, and it stung.

For the last few years I’ve been struggling in my faith.  I can only describe it as a dark cloud of doubt that seemed to follow me wherever I went.  It made praying exausting and reading the bible about as appealing as eating chalk-dust.  I would love to say that I was faithful to God during this time, persevering through the drought and patiently waiting for the rain to return, but I wasn’t.  I decided that I could probably get all I was missing from the world and when the world didn’t return the love, I took that anger out on God. It wasn’t until a year ago, there has been a few sun-breaks or two.

I apologize if the next part raises a few eyebrows.  I’m open to correction on this if you disagree, so please feel free to comment at the end of the post if you do.

But it wasn’t until I started praying through a book of prayers where the author encouraged the reader to get rid of any unforgiveness in my heart and pray and ask God to reveal anyone that I needed to forgive that I had a real break-through.  I prayed and went through the normal list of people in my life that I’d had a history with and didn’t feel the need to forgive them again – I already had, years ago.

But the only person that kept coming up was…myself.

I really struggled with doubt after hearing this. Was this really God?  I thought we couldn’t forgive ourselves -only God could.

But I heard it again and once more.

You see, for years I had been struggling with a seething self-hatred.  I won’t go into all the things I hated about myself, but trust me, it was an extensive list.  Whenever I made a mistake or screwed something up, I would tear off into a relentless tirade of inner-verbal abuse that perhaps only a sufferer of schizophrenia could relate to.   In fact if I ever talked that way to my own kids , I’d probably have charges filed against me for child abuse.

The Lord helped me to see myself in the third person and showed that I had been abusing his child, not allowing her the grace to make mistakes and move forward – even if it was imperfectly.  I understood that God forgave me because of what His son had done on the cross, but at the same time, every time she/I took a step toward Him for forgiveness or healing, I would scornfully yank her back and heap abuses on her again.

I didn’t realize how much this had been angering God.

 “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

Romans 2:4

What some of us turn outward, some of us turn inward.  This isn’t to say that we can forgive ourselves unto salvation.  No, not at all.  But only in the way we seek to imitate our Lord in the forgiveness of others.

God has been gracious to me the last few weeks. Showing me how much he loves us in such a real and tangible way.  Yes, he did demonstrate his love for us and the world on the cross, but beyond a few fleeting glances throughout my now twenty year walk with the Lord, I never realized the intimacy of that love.

So, if you would allow, let me leave you with this: He really, really loves you.

He can’t take his eyes off of you!

And when his eyes are on you, they aren’t full of condemnation, or disappointment.  They are full of a breathless joy, like the moment before laughter.  His eyes are dancing as he gazes into yours and the excitement!  The excitement he has for you, knowing all the wonderful things he has in store.  Like the night before Christmas and he can’t wait for you to wake up and watch you open your presents.

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

~R.

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About R.A. Hobbs

My name is Rachel. I’m a Christian. I don’t hold any theology degrees or anything, I’m just a layman believer. If anything I feel like I’m way behind the curve, a spiritual straggler just managing to hop on the bus before it leaves the station. I’ve never really written much about my faith, mostly because I didn’t feel I had anything to say. But lately, the Lord has been teaching and revealing things to me that I think are worth sharing. I don’t know how long this season is going to last and those of us who have walked with the Lord know that there are ebbs and flows, bursts of growth followed by just waiting and abiding. So, I decided to write some of it down and what I manage to make readable, I’ll share with you. Welcome to my bus!
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7 Responses to Treasures old and new

  1. Tanis says:

    I’m glad you shared yourself in this post. You express yourself so well. I struggle because it’s sooo much easier to believe in God’s amazing love for everyone else, and it’s hard to accept it on a personal level, especially when life is hard. Things are going ok now, but I’ve had some really dark years of wilderness; wrestling with God’s rebuke and silence. I know God disciplines those He loves and clearly I had some things to work on, but I’ve had this lingering distrust. If God allowed me to go through that much pain (albeit for growth and my ultimate good), there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again. I’ve been keeping God at arm’s length (as if I really could!). A couple months ago I had a thought that struck me as pretty sacrilegious…I need to forgive God. Again, like you said, not in a redeeming sort of way, but in a restoring the relationship, letting go of my hurt and bitterness and beginning to trust again. If we are to truly live in open relationship with God, there has to be some human level of reciprocal feelings, right? God loves me; I love Him. God forgives and accepts me; I accept Him and forgive the parts that hurt me for my own good. Is that absolutely terrible theology? I’m not saying God needs my forgiveness or deserves it for some wrong that He’s done, I’m saying I need to forgive God for not being who I want Him to be, in the way I want Him to be it, all the time…and praise Him all the more for being better than I can imagine. Does that make sense? Love the Zephaniah verse you posted.

    • R.A. Hobbs says:

      Tanis, thank you for such an honest and thoughtful post! And I totally get what you mean about forgiving God to restore the relationship. And here’s why, at our house, after we have disciplined our kids and there’s that time when you come back together with hugs and forgiveness, we ask them to forgive us too. We hated having to cause them pain and as parents it hurts our hearts having to do it! And not because we did anything wrong, (believe me, they had it coming!) but because of the pain we had to bring to get through to them. We say, “Will you forgive us too for the pain we had to cause you?” And after a few sniffles, they nod and give us the biggest hug and it blesses us so much when they do that! That’s all we wanted as parents, right? A relationship without any more walls? Since we started doing this a few years ago, it’s really made a difference in how quickly we move on from whatever distress had happened. Communication is more open and honest afterwards too. So, yeah! I totally get what you mean!
      I’m not a theology expert in any way, but, Jesus, said He was meek and humble in heart. To say He would be so proud to be offended by that, to me, would be totally against the character of God. God wants a relationship with us, at ANY COST! And if anyone doubts that(Christian or non) look to the cross and see what He was willing to pay. And allowing us to kill his SON is just about the most offensive thing I can think of.

      • Tanis says:

        Yes! That’s totally what I’ve been thinking…the parent analogy. I’ve been thinking that in a way I had to forgive my parents for the pain of discipline. I’ve also been thinking about the times in my marriage when my husband hurts my feelings, but didn’t really do anything wrong. Or maybe it hurt when he told me the real truth about something, which I need to hear, but it still hurts. It’s like one of those times when you say “I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings, that wasn’t my intention. I needed to share this with you and I think we’ll be stronger for it. I’m sorry I hurt you.” Sometimes even having the other person acknowledge your pain makes the fact that they caused it or allowed it …better.

        With God, it’s hard because we don’t have this audible two way conversation. I can say “Hey God, I feel like you’ve ditched me here and I could really use some encouragement or any sign that you still care.” and maybe the answer, three years later, is something like “Hey Tanis, I’m so sorry that my silence hurt you. I love you and I heard you. To grow your faith and let you wrestle with what it means to believe and trust while your world falls apart, I had to be silent for a while. I was sorry to see you suffer and I’m delighted that you loved me in spite of your confusion and pain. Look how much you grew. Look how much compassion you have for others now. Please keep trusting me and let me closer again. I’ll always love you no matter what.” and I’d say “I forgive you God and I thank you and I love you and I’m sorry. Help my unbelief.”

        You know…something like that…

      • R.A. Hobbs says:

        Girl, that was from God. I’m so glad you replied. 🙂

  2. christywa says:

    Rachel, That was beautiful. I have tears in my eyes thinking about God loving me in this way. Thank you for sharing this. Looking forward to reading more!

    • R.A. Hobbs says:

      Christina, I’m so happy to hear this. I really felt the Lord wanting me to share this and I was a little scared to put myself out there, so to speak. I don’t like dry spells, where God feels so distant. I’m sure it’s to grow our faith or strengthen our roots or whatever, but man, it sucks!
      He really, really does love you, Christina and is nearer than I think many of us realize. In that dream, I could only describe the feeling of Jesus looking at my friend like the way my husband looked at me when I was walking down the aisle. But so much more pure and…energetic? Excited? ugh! This is where my words fail me! It’s really hard to describe. My prayer is that we ask Him to help us see others through His eyes, and to give us His love for them. In the process, I think we’ll discover how much he loves us, too.

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