When I was about five years old I had my first encounter with the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God. I felt the incredible love of God as I walked through a forest with my Sunday school class. The teacher had talked to us about how much God loves us, and how we can see him in the things that he made, the trees and brooks, the wind and the leaves.
Today I was thinking about the incredible beauty of the love of God. Anyone who has felt it will always want it. Then I heard a sermon about it.
The sermon I heard tonight went something like this:
You might be in a low point in your life. You might be in the pit of despair. You might be feeling very depressed right now, or maybe you are doing fine, maybe you are going through a happy time in your life. But no matter what, God’s love is washing over you, taking care of you much more than you know.
Thousands of years ago, in fact even before anything existed, God already thought of you and decided to choose you and love you. God has been waiting your entire life for this moment, where he could get you to sit still for one minute and say this to you:
“You have no idea how much I love you. I have always loved you. There was never a moment of your existence when I didn’t love you. I planned that fertilization of the two cells that came together to make you. I planned your conception. I allowed that conception. I wanted you alive so I could love you because you are special to me. There is no one else like you, you are completely new and unique to me. I heard your first cry, there was no moment of your life that I didn’t love you. Through all your celebrations and difficulties, your sadness and happiness I loved and adored you even more than you loved yourself. I wanted good things for you even more than you did. Whether you realize it or not I have been gazing upon you in love because I made you to love you.”
How would your life change if you knew how much God loved you? Think about how it would feel if you got up in the morning and the first thing you felt was that you are deeply and unconditionally loved by God. What if you felt the love of God as you got out of bed to brush your teeth? And in the car on way to work or school you felt the love of God. What would it be like if you felt God’s love unconditionally, knowing that no matter what you do or don’t do, you know that God loves you? No matter what you do or don’t do, God will still love you the same amount.
Your first and most important calling in life is to let God love you. What happens if you accept this call?
You feel accepted rather than ashamed or condemned. You feel totally accepted, and that will change your life. Many avoid God because they feel ashamed or guilty. Maybe you feel guilty, criticized. God is perfect and I’m not. Why would I hang out with a perfect God to remind me of all the ways I’ve failed?
But God did not come to condemn the world but to save it. If you feel God is down on you, guess what? You are totally wrong. God is not down on you at all, he is totally for you, totally cheering you on, bragging to the angels and even the devil about you. He certainly did that about Job in the Old Testament.
You have spent your entire life in order to get peoples approval and love of other people. You dress the way you do to get approval. You wear your hair the way you do to get approval. You talk and act the way you do to get love and approval. You have been trying to get approval from some unpleasable people your entire life and you are not going to get it. Realize you don’t need the approval of other people. Most of your life you have been worried about what other people think because you don’t feel unconditionally loved by God. When you realize how much God loves you, criticism doesn’t bother you. You will no longer need other people’s approval to be happy. This idea will set you free.
The man who spoke these words is Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life.