And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to KNOW this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.Ephesians 3:17-19
Do you have a hard time knowing and believing that God loves you? The verb “to know” in Scripture means to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to obtain, to take into oneself, to appropriate, to take possession of. Knowing implies realizing something, being sure of it and feeling it.
So, I ask you, do you really know experientially that God loves you, really loves you? That his love can truly satisfy every longing and need of your heart so that you can give yourself unreservedly and fully surrendered to Him? That you can trust yourself in his hands, that you don’t need to look to other things to meet your needs because He deeply and fully adores you—adores YOU.
Why do we struggle with knowing God loves us? I’d like to answer that question by giving you an illustration. Imagine with me a pitcher filled with water and six cups. The pitcher represents God’s lavish love and the cups represent different people and different reasons why they cannot receive God’s love. As you imagine, try to identify which one you are most like.
The first person is Busy Betty/Barry. Imagine trying to pour water from the pitcher into one of the cups, but the cup is never still and is constantly moving around spastically. This person is always flitting around, doing good things (or maybe silly, useless things), staying busy but never taking time to be still, to hang out with God to learn of his love and receive it. She/He is like Martha in Luke 10:40–41 who was distracted by all her preparation, and worried and upset about many things.
The next person is Doubting Debbie/Denny. Imagine a lone cup away from the stream of water which is pouring into other cups. This person feels like they are on the sidelines of life, watching God love everyone else, but certain that He cannot love them. They just have a hard time believing that it could be true for them. She/He is like Naomi in Ruth 1:13 who said that “the Lord’s hand has gone out against me.”
Then there’s Crowded Chrissy/Cody. Imagine a cup stuffed full of marbles or any other junk. Any water poured into this cup is displaced by the stuff already in there. This person has filled their heart with so many things that there is little room for God. It could be a secret sin, but most likely it’s ordinary things like their home, their job, material possessions or it could be their children, spouse, even church. She/He is is like Rachel in Genesis 30:1 who cried “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
This cup described me. I filled my heart with my husband. I was so in love and made marriage the only thing I longed for. I dreamed of doing everything with my husband, of building this perfect relationship, of never needing anyone else but him and of course, we all know that doesn’t work. My idol fell off his pedestal one day and I was devastated. God gently showed me that I could not call Him “the lover of my soul.” My heart was so full of my husband and my hurt and disappointment that he was not loving me the way I wanted to be loved, that I could not know and receive God’s love.
Next we have Blocked Becky/Billy. Imagine a piece of plastic wrap or a lid over the rim of the cup so that no water can be poured into it. This person cannot know and receive God’s love because their heart is blocked—by abuse in the past, a present sin, resentment, anger, unforgiveness or bitterness. She/He is like Michal in 2 Samuel 6:16 whose “heart was filled with scorn.”
Then, there’s Leaky Lori/Larry. Imagine a cup with holes punched into it. As soon as water is poured into it, the water runs right out. This person is so full of wounds that have not yet healed that when they seek God’s love and He gives it to them, it immediately leaks out of their many holes. She/He is like Tamar in 2 Samuel 13:20 who was raped by her half-brother and called a “desolate woman.”
Finally, we come to Healthy Hettie/Henry. Imagine a cup positioned right under the flow from the pitcher and staying there until it is filled to overflowing. This person sits at Jesus’ feet and lets God pour his love into their heart until it is full to the brim and overflowing with love for others around them. She/He is like Mary in Luke 10:28 who “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” Which one do you identify with the most? What is keeping you from believing and receiving God’s lavish love?
We need to take the time to be still before God, to spend time with Him, to sit at his feet. We have to get rid of the stuff in our lives, the things that clutter up our hearts. Perhaps we need to see a counselor or pastor if there is abuse or unconfessed sin. We need to let God heal the wounds and hurts so that we can understand and know that He is the Lord and that He lavishly loves us. Commit to moving ahead on your journey to truly KNOW God’s lavish love.
Yesterday, God, I was soaring Like a graceful eagle And you loved me. Today I feel like a blob And you love me. Tomorrow I may ask “Whatever happened To disturb me yesterday?” And you’ll love me. God, there are innumerable things I cannot begin to comprehend But the one great certainly In all my life is this: I know that you love me. Ruth Harms Calkin