Five years ago I prayed to understand grace. I’d been a Christian for most my life. I’d been leading worship for eight years. I’d been in ministry to nursing homes for three years. And, I didn’t understand grace.
Something had to change. On the way back from a church conference I asked a group of friends from our church to pray for me to understand grace. As their worship leader, this required some humility. But it was worth it. God honored those prayers and he began to answer that prayer in profound ways.
Soon after, my wife and I became pregnant… well, she did… I obviously wasn’t pregnant… because I’m a boy and boys don’t get pregnant.
I was very concerned about being a father because I wanted my children to grow up knowing God loved them deeply and for them to be surrounded and immersed in Gods grace every day of their lives. I was more than a little apprehensive that I couldn’t provide that kind of environment for them which was why we waited eight years to have children in the first place. I didn’t know if I could convince them of these truths because I wasn’t quite convinced myself. But now the pressure was on.
I prayed and prayed and prayed about this and one day I was at a stop light and I heard God whisper to my heart,
“You know, I created you to love you.”
Wow! Of course he did! How could I have been so blind? The truth of it hit me in a fresh and profound way that changed everything for me that day. Up to this point I suppose I had been believing the lie that I was created to see if I would amount to anything or measure up. If I failed to impress, I thought, I would be shelved and God would move on to someone else. That was how I felt. Shelved. I didn’t measure up, and God had abandoned me.
Grace has since taught me that I never have to impress my Papa. He always has and always will love me just for who I am. I didn’t have to earn his love. In fact, there was nothing I could do that could make God love me any less, and on the flip side, there is nothing I could do that could make him love me any more. He just loved me, with a perfect infinite unfailing unconditional love that could bring you to tears in a moment… the good kind of tears that comfort and wash away all the pain of the past, all your shame, all the time wasted in the darkness when you doubted that love.
“There is nothing you could do that could make God love you any less, and there is nothing you could do that could make him love you any more.”
Believing I was that loved set me free.
This is the essence of the Christian life and the primary responsibility of every human being on the planet:
Let God love you! Receive his love!
Songs like How He Loves and Jesus prodigal son story made me weep as I let the sunshine of God’s love into the dark gollum cave of my heart. It had been dark for so long, the light of his love was most welcome! It seemed God would always give me what I needed when I needed it and as I could receive it as he led me deeper down the path toward love.
I would drive in my car and pray, “Jesus I receive your love right now”. I would often feel my spirit light up and His love wash over me. It was brilliant! I still purposefully get alone with God often to experience him and his love… who knew prayer time could be so exciting!
I was now free to be fully me, abundantly alive like never before, but… I was also free to run back to the darkness. I was free to play in the mud. I was free to be foolish once again. His love would not force me to stay in that love. As much as he desired me to stay in that love, as much as it broke his heart to see me go, his love would let me go.
How often I have prayed foolish prayers like that found in Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above
He simply will not do it. He will not chain you his side. You are not a puppy dog and he is not a cruel master. He won’t force you to stay. His love will not let him. Love has granted you and I free will. We can choose to keep company with LOVE Himself (God is Love) or play in the mud with all the nasty demons of darkness.
A widely-told story of the author of Come Thou Fount says that one day as he was riding in a stagecoach a lady asked him what he thought of the hymn she was humming. He responded, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”
Even Solomon whom God named Jedediah (Beloved of the LORD) with all his personal visits from the Lord and profound wisdom wandered from the One who loved him and blessed him so much.
“With great grace comes great responsibility”
We have the holy responsibility to remain in the love of God. Remain in the love of Yeshua.
“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love.” (John 15:9 NIV)
Jesus tells us how.
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12 NIV)
Just today my little Elisabeth Grace was shouting out in our front yard one of her bible story songs, “Keep my commandments and you will live!” Then she loudly announced, “The commandment of the Lord is to love others!”
“I love your song Ellie, and thank you for sharing that with our neighbors.”
We named her Elisabeth Grace and she has been one of the greatest gifts of grace in my life. Five has biblically been associated as the number of grace. Elisabeth (whose name means “dedicated to God”) was born on 5/5/10 and spoke her first phrase the day she was dedicated when she was five months and five days old on 10/10/10. (She said “Oh my Mama” in case you were wondering).
Exactly five years after my prayer to know God’s grace we are releasing our album Amazing Grace. Ellie closes out the album singing “Jesus Loves Me”. There isn’t a more profound truth than this.
FREE DOWNLOAD! (PLEASE read about why were giving it away HERE!)