The next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion will take place on Saturday, November 11, at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. These conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.
This week, we will discuss chapters five and six, two pivotal chapters for my journey, and what I see in others who seek to live in God’s affection. If you grew up in a religious environment, you were probably convinced that God’s love, favor, or blessing were things you had to earn. Without referring to it by name, you were taught that God has a Favor Line. If you’re good enough, spiritually active enough, or zealous enough, then you can rest in his love.
So, every thought of being out of sorts with God sends you sifting through your life to think about what more you must do or what sin is causing God to dislike you. If you believe God’s love or favor is something you can earn, you will chase it to frustration the rest of your days. When you realize that affection is something you cannot attain, even on your best day, you’re ready to discover that you already have it.
This excerpt from He Loves Me tells about the day a young Pharisee discovered that truth. He was called Saul on this day, but afterward, he became known as Paul, the apostle:
In that moment, Saul discovered God’s favor when he had done absolutely nothing to earn it. Instead of being punished, he received an invitation to come into the family he had tried so hard to destroy. Instead of the death he’d brought to others, he was offered a life that he never knew existed.
Saul was left with one inescapable fact: he had done nothing to propel himself above the favor line, but found himself there nonetheless. He found that Jesus had loved him even when he had no idea who he was. For Jesus had shattered the favor line to free Saul from its tyranny. It changed him more than all he’d previously learned about God.
This is where relationship with God begins. It may sound impossible especially if you’ve hoped for this in the past and, like the young mother at the beginning of this chapter, you have only been disappointed by how remote he seemed when you needed him the most. All you knew to do was try even harder to be good enough to win his affection.
But such thinking will never lead you closer to him. Instead of teaching you to love him, it only leaves you angry and frustrated that you can’t do enough, or that he isn’t being fair to you. He wants to break this cycle the only way he can—by making his favor a gift instead of something you earn.
I know you’ve heard me say it often: our awareness of the Father’s love is not something we can achieve; it’s something we relax into. And I know how hard that is to believe, especially if you’ve never known or “felt” his love. But his love for us is as sure as the sun rising in the morning and as certain as his Son dying on the cross to rescue us.
You are already loved!
And now a bit from my story in chapter six:
God doesn’t need us to serve him as a means to attain his love or affection. He wants us to serve him out of the love and affection he already holds for us in his heart. If you have never tasted that reality, you cannot imagine the freedom that lies ahead of you. My Father brought me to the place where I realized that even if I never preached another sermon, never counseled another person, nor ever led someone to Christ again, he still delighted in me as his child.
That doesn’t mean he approves of everything I do, but it has freed me to know that he loves me—absolutely and completely. I had served God for thirty-four years always with an undercurrent of trying to earn his favor. It has only been in the last twelve that I’ve learned to live in that favor and I’m never going back.
That’s when it became clear. It is not the fear of losing God’s favor that takes us to the depth of fellowship with him and transforms our lives with his holiness. It is our certainty of knowing his unrelenting love for us, even in the midst of our weakness and failure, that lead us to the fullness of his life.
Fear had never taken me to the depths of his life or his transforming power; discovering his delight has. I now know that the key to God’s favor doesn’t rest on what I give him, but what he already has given to me.
He delights in you, too. Can you see him that way over you, exalting and dancing with joy?
No? Do you think your failures and doubts diminish his love for you? Are you afraid you can’t offer him enough to make him notice you?
He doesn’t delight in you because of your deeds or your gifts. He delights in you simply because you are his.
Even if you don’t know that yet, it doesn’t change the facts. He wants you to know, at the core of your being, how deeply loved by God you are. Talk to him about it. Look for his fingerprints and whispers doing our day. He is best seen in subtle movements and heard best in quiet moments. Ask him to help you relax into that reality and cease the fruitless striving that cannot earn what has already been given.
The reason I write, podcast, and hold these conversations about He Loves Me is so you, too, can know that reality. Join us if you want, or listen to these conversations later. They are real people also learning how to live in the reality of his love
If you’ve missed the previous chapters, you can find them here: