The events that Christians from all over the world will celebrate this weekend were not only to redeem humanity but to prove God’s unrelenting love to win our hearts into a relationship with him. It’s a recurrent theme on this blog and on my podcast at The God Journey. I want to call your attention today to one of those, podcast #671, called Letting Him Win You. I have had a number of people over the last month tell me that the last seven minutes of that podcast were transformative for them as Brad and I talked about God winning us into his love.
And that’s not just something he did 2,000 years ago, it’s what he is doing with you today. He is at work in and around you to win you into the reality that you are a beloved son or daughter of a gracious Father. How can you recognize that, and how can you embrace him? That’s what these seven minutes are about. You can listen to it below, or read an adaptation of those comments that follow.
We often draw the worst of our human conclusions from misinterpreted Scripture. We often hear that God has done everything for our salvation, and now it’s up to us to do the best we can. We already have the truth; we just have to work it.
However, unless God wins us into his love and wins us into his trust, we will not be able to follow him on this journey. Of course, we’re involved. If you’re not won to love and trust, you will plan and plot. You just will. Fear will do that and you’ll be anxious in unresolved situations.
To be won into trusting him, we have to be willing to be won. That’s what lies at the heart of repentance. It’s not groveling in shame, but rather abandoning our agenda and desires for what we want out of life. As long as you know how you want your life to come out and how you want any circumstance to be resolved, this road will be difficult. Instead, you’ll give God ultimatums: “If you don’t do what I want, I’m going to doubt you exist.” You’ll miss his heart for you because you’re not getting your own way.
That’s why repentance is so crucial. Don’t think of it as saying, “I’m so sorry. I’m such a horrible, lousy sinner, and I’ll never do it again” That’s not repentance. Repentance says, “I’m going to abandon my agenda and embrace yours.” I’m not going to trust my human conclusions about what God would do if he loved me. Those who do have a hard time believing they are loved.
But it’s not just releasing our agenda for the future; there is also an element of releasing our disappointed expectations from our past. Why didn’t you heal my child, or protect them when I asked? Why didn’t you save my marriage, or job, or some relationship we valued? Those are relationship killers. If I’m holding him to account as if he does not love me, how can I recognize his love when it comes? When Job comes to the end of his calamities, he realizes how much he misunderstood God’s work in all his sufferings. “Things too wonderful for me to understand.”
An ongoing heart of repentance provides the space that will allow him to win us into love and trust. Come to discover how much he loves you and your trust in him will grow alongside it. That’s why I encourage people all the time to pray this prayer: “Father if you love me in the way Wayne says you do, would you show that to me?” Pray that, not just for a day or week, but let it be the cry of your heart for a year or two. Keep it before him and watch how he makes himself known.
As he teaches you about his love, recognize where anxiety or fear crowds him out. I don’t mind at such moments inviting him into my struggle, “Father I’m not trusting you here. I want to. Help me.” I still have moments like those. I don’t have a complete trust in God that fits every circumstance that confronts me. But I know what to do when panic and anxiety try to set in. That’s where I get to lie down and say, “Okay God, what is it about you that I don’t know, and if I knew it, I would trust you here?”
If Eve could have prayed that in the garden, if she could have said, “God, I don’t trust you here. I want to grab this fruit and get there myself. What is it about your love I don’t know that would keep me safe here?”
If she knew how completely loved by God she was, the enemy’s voice would have had no weight. It isn’t even about how much she loved God but simply knowing how much he loved her. If she genuinely knew that, there would be no temptation. She would not have even wasted a second wondering if her God would withhold anything good from her.
So if you’re hungry to know God and embrace his way of living, maybe this is where you can begin. Let him win you into love and win you into trusting him. It isn’t easy to discover God’s love living in a broken world where so much of his will is thwarted by human greed and indulgence. He knows how huge it is to win us into that love and yet he’s up to the challenge. He really can bring us out of our pain, disappointment, and hurt and show us how loved we are even when we’re going to be disappointed and hurt again. But now we know we are not alone.
We weren’t alone the first time, either; we just thought we were.