Exist, live, occupy
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Romans 8:32)
When God asks me what I think about something, I give it a moment before I answer him. Why? My answers are usually a bit self-centered - I see them from my perspective FIRST, then I consider them from the opposite side of the relationship. Yet, God wants us to know it is okay for us to consider things from 'our side' of the relationship - he delights in us being that open and honest with him. God put everything on the line for us just so we could have that openness and freedom to be ourselves with him. More importantly, he wants us to get to know who we are apart from Christ as well as who we are in Christ. Why? When we see the bigger picture of what God does IN us and what he has done FOR us, we draw just a bit closer into the safety of his protective arms. Nothing living or dead - high or low - nor what we can imagine in our minds can ever replace the safety we experience when we draw up close to Jesus as he draws up close to us.
That said, I know the struggle some have with actually 'feeling safe' because they have lived a good deal of their lives in 'unsafe relationships'. It isn't all that easy to just 'feel safe' when all you have known is a pretty harsh, antagonistic time within relationships. We might have come to realize that God draws us closer and closer - even when we seem to resist that closeness. Why? Nothing can ever separate us from his love - even our feelings of mistrust! We have been and are being embraced by his love - period! Feelings will follow - mistrust will fall away - but first we need to begin to just allow him to be close. A dog that has been abused will shiver and shake, cowering away into a corner when approached. Why? It doesn't 'feel safe' around those who resemble the abuser. If you can hear one thing today, hear this - God is love and his love is extended over and over again UNTIL you come to the place where you actually begin to trust it as genuine and just for you!
I frequently remind myself that feelings are a bit fickle - likely to change, unstable, and not at all reliable. I may not 'feel' loved one day, but the next the feelings are quite different. Did God's love change toward me based upon the circumstances of the day or something I did / didn't do? Not at all. His love was as consistent today as it was yesterday - my feelings toward that love just changed once again. If we could learn to appreciate love as more than just feelings, we might come to rely upon what we know and trust with our minds and see demonstrated on a continual basis more than we rely upon our feelings. God's love is consistent - our appreciation and apprehension of his love is what changes. We come to trust as we lean in - not counting on our feelings to guide us so much - experiencing the freedom to just BE with him. BE implies existing, living, occupying a space different than the one previously occupied. Isn't this what love does? It brings into existence, causes one to live, and then draws one into places of safety like one has never known before. Just sayin!