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What If?

On extremely rare occasions I have spoken to a Sunday morning audience. On July 25, 2004, in my lesson “Maybe He Loves You,” a series of “What if?” statements seemed to resonate strongly with several of those in attendance. If you’ve ever felt like God merely tolerates you instead of loving you deeply, keep reading.

Excerpt from “Maybe He Loves You” »

I recently received a phone call from my cousin, Reneé. As we talked, I told her that despite my continual failures to master sin in my life, our Father just keeps nurturing … encouraging … and forgiving me. I said, “I don’t know why, but for some reason He just keeps putting up with me.” Her response was wise … gentle … and powerful. She simply said, “Or maybe He loves you.”

“Maybe He loves you.”

After our conversation, I cried. I realized that I was seeing our Father as a traveling companion who merely tolerates me. My mistake was especially crucial because I believe with my whole heart that we treat other people the way we feel treated by our God.

I’ve done a lot of thinking since that conversation, and there are some things I can’t help but wonder.

What if He doesn’t say, “Can he not do anything right? She has been nothing but trouble from day one!”

What if instead He says, “I am so proud of him. He always comes back to Me no matter how far he wanders away. Those trips out in the dark in the storms are long and hard, but I’d rather die trying to save him than leave him out there alone. I am so proud of her. No matter how bad her sin is, she never stops coming to Me for forgiveness and love.”

What if He doesn’t say, “How did this one get past Quality Control?!”?

What if instead He really says, “Wow! I remember the day I first thought of creating him … the day I first thought of creating her. That was a good day! That was a very good day!”?

What if He doesn’t say, “Well, if she doesn’t mess up today, I might write her name back in the Book of Life.”?

What if instead He says, “She sinned yesterday? Hmmmm … I had forgotten. I just remember her telling Me how important I am to her.”?

What if He doesn’t say, “When he gets baptized, then I’ll love him.”?

What if instead He says, “I’m giving him the very best of my love so that one day he will believe in Me and want to be with Me as much as I want to be with him. My kindness is perfectly designed to bring him to repentance.”?

What if going out after lost sheep where we live makes His day?

What if He anticipates sunrise in our neighborhoods?

What if He delights in cleaning us up … healing our wounds … wiping away our tears … the way a parent delights in comforting a dirty … injured … frightened child?

What if He doesn’t view our sin as an inconvenience, but rather as an opportunity for the world to see Him at His very best?

What if His power really is perfected when we are weak?

John tells a story in the first eleven verses of Chapter 8, and it’s not a story about a God who simply tolerates people who are victims of Satan’s lies. It’s a story about a God who loves the unlovable. We have been called to live like Him … to love those who have suffered through mere tolerance their whole lives … to extend grace to those who do not deserve grace.

I know that is difficult. Trying to live like Jesus is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I am currently re-learning who Christ is and what it means to live in relationship with Him. I am just now learning to accept Him exactly as He is … to accept myself exactly the way He made me … to accept His love that I feel so unworthy of … and to share that love with the people in my world. I’m learning to tolerate less and love more. What a great way to live!



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