A Love That Can Give and Give and Give

Welcome! I'm Harma-Mae Smit and this is my monthly newsletter diving into topics of faith. You can subscribe by clicking this link.

~Love, Harma-Mae

Meditation on the Love of God 

God loves us so much he sent his Son to this world to die for us. That is what we remember on Good Friday. That kind of love is hard to wrap our minds around. On one hand, we can’t imagine the kind of love for another that would prompt us to give up something so incredibly precious. On the other hand, because God has given us a gift beyond value already, we can wonder how we dare ask him for anything else. Why would we bother him with our petty requests and wants, when he has already done everything for us? Our daily struggles look so meaningless compared to this great struggle he has already won for us. 

This is what I found myself thinking when I found myself alone in Paris on Easter Sunday in 2014. I had nothing to complain about. I was in Paris, after all—so many Christians around the world suffer and struggle, and I was travelling for the pleasure of seeing things I deeply desired to see. And yet I found myself writing this in my blog account at the time: 

It was one of those silly little prayers you feel like God really shouldn’t answer – it was, 'God, I’d really like to talk to someone today.’ Because talking only to yourself in your head makes you go a little crazy after a while. 
But today is Easter Sunday, and I’m sitting here remembering how Jesus gave up everything so that I could be saved from my own sinfulness, and what do I come to him with but another request—‘hey, I’m really grateful that you’ve done so much for me, but can you do another thing too?’ And here’s where the grace of God comes in—he answered that prayer. I went to church, and I talked to some people, and they invited me on a Young Adults’ Easter Egg hunt through Paris. 
Sometimes you feel like it’s hard to understand what it means that God loves you—you understand in theory, but how does that really affect your life? And then there’s times where God goes—‘I don’t answer every prayer exactly in the way you want me to, but this time I will, because I want you to KNOW that I do do things just because I love you. Not because you earned it any more than you earned the rest of what I’ve done for you, but because I want you to know that I love you.’  
That’s grace.

Sometimes we convince ourselves to lower our expectations of God. First of all, we don’t want to ask for the wrong things, and we know almost all our requests are self-centered. So we tell ourselves we obviously should not expect an answer for prayers that might not be quite right anyway. Second, we want to avoid the crushing disappointment of unanswered prayers, so we tell ourselves not to expect an answer, and avoid the disappointment. Third, even if our request is not self-centered, we might hesitate to ask for more and more and more from a God who has already given us everything we need.  

But the answer is not to lower our expectations of God. Our actions change nothing about his character. 

We can’t wrap our minds around a love that can give and give and give, without resentment. But God is beyond our understanding—he is able to give and give to those who can never pay him back. He can receive our petty requests in love, and see how they could be turned to our good. He does not require us to get our prayers perfect before we dare to come before him.  

“Grace” is often defined as “unmerited favour”: those who have no claim to God’s goodness receive his goodness anyway. We understand grace in the dramatic biblical events, where God covers our sin with the blood of Jesus. But at times we fail to recognize the grace that holds us in the palm of God’s hand every day, the grace that gives us every little joy we daily experience—the sun coming up each morning in a blaze of pink and red and yellow, the flowers that unfurl themselves in the spring, the taste of coffee that hits our tongue in the morning and satisfies something in us. We take all this for granted, and then we hesitate to pour our hearts out before God as if he had not been granting us gifts all along. 

God loves, and he loves us perfectly. He is eternally moved to communicate himself to us, and it is a part of who he is. He will always delight in demonstrating his character to us so that we can know him more. We might fall short, but our inability does not require us to lower our expectations of him. God never changes. 

My head you have with soothing oil anointed; 
My cup runs over, for you have appointed 
Goodness and mercy to forsake me never, 
And in your house, Lord, I will dwell forever. 
- Psalm 23, Anglo-Genevan Psalter
And how was that Easter egg hunt? It was more of a combination of easter egg and scavenger hunt, really—and amazingly enough, I’d learned enough from my wanderings that I could help out with one or two of the clues! Including where the oldest tree in Paris is. I lay down that night in my Airbnb, with my heart full of blessing.

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