Love Not Less Than or More Than but Even Then

God's Love Bed

by Heather Bock

When I reach the end of a day, and I mean the flat-out exhausted, can’t think properly anymore, very end of a day (the way most of my days end), I sometimes have to face the reality that I haven’t spent the amount of time in prayer I’d like to and/or I haven’t studied the Bible. On those days, I have usually had this reality in the corner of my eye all day, but at that dead-end of the day, I must face it head-on because I have then lost my last chances. At that point, I am saddened when I know I’ve made bad choices that have led me to run out of time. I’m sad I didn’t give myself the chance to spend time alone with my sweet Lord. Underneath the rightful sadness, something else creeps.

A feeling of being less: less righteous, less valuable, less loved.

On the other hand, when I slide myself between the sheets at night, and I can think back and know that I spent all the quiet time I needed and wanted with Jesus that day, I feel happy. I’m happy for the good reason that time with Jesus is good. He enriches my outlook, encourages my weaknesses, strengthens my faith, and so much more. However, more lurks behind those good feelings, too.

A feeling of being more: more righteous, more valuable, more loved.

This doesn’t just come with whether I spent time with God that day or not. My productivity affects this, too. If I’ve gotten in some good exercise, completed the writing I wanted to do, spent time with Greg, checked off everything on my homeschool list, fulfilled my roles as mother, daughter, ESL teacher, and Facebook group admin, and added in whatever other specific task might be on my list for that day, THEN I feel good about myself. If not, if one or two are lacking, I go to bed with a sense of defeat.

On Memorial Day, I accomplished almost nothing. I sat around playing Brain Dots on my phone, and my skin was crawling with guilt the whole day, for I have expectations even for my rest days, like reading for fun or getting outside. Too much game playing, even one that I reason might be building some brain cells, doesn’t feel right.

Does anybody else feel this way?

I know in my head this isn’t right. What I GET DONE doesn’t change my standing before God, positively or negatively.

It’s not what I do that makes me righteous. Jesus made me righteous when I accepted Him and His sacrifice on the cross: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

It’s not what I do that makes me valuable. God values me as one made in His own image. No matter what I do, He values me as His own child. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (Jn. 1:12).

It’s not what I do that makes me loved by God. The Bible says nothing exists that can take away the love God has for us: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). Nothing we do will make Him love us more, either. How can God love more when He IS love Himself? As I John 4:16 beautifully states, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

That’s what it comes down to. Do I really believe the love God has for me? If I do, I will continue to work for Him and spend time with Him out of love for Him, as I do now, but out of love alone. I pray that this love on both sides will sweep away all traces of the other feelings that still linger. Let “this one thing [remain]: Your love never fails; it never gives up; it never runs out on me” (Bethel Music).

May We Stay Lit for Jesus, Our First Love

lamp-first-love

by Heather Bock

When I returned from LIT, a one-day conference for women in their 20s and 30s passionate about communicating Christ, put on by Living Proof Ministries, my husband was wary. He knew I was excited, and he was happy for me, but he was concerned. Continue reading

Who are Your Prayer Warriors?

by Heather Bock

Tuesdays are always crazy for me. I’m part of a busy generation in the middle of a busy nation, so I’m sure you can relate. This week is even crazier because my oldest turned nine today, and I’m throwing him a birthday party on Saturday. Ever since he turned three, I have made it a tradition in our family to create big parties at our house with lots of homemade decorations. It’s become something my kids anticipate and love, and even though it ends up being a lot of work, I completely enjoy it. You could say it’s my hobby three times a year. I also wanted to make cupcakes for Mr. C to bring to his Wednesday class to make his actual day special. On top of that, I’ve been preparing for a conference that I will be attending next weekend–so excited!–and that has taken a lot more (good) time than I thought it would.

I went to bed on Monday night wondering how I would get everything done on Tuesday and still treat everyone in my family with the love and respect stress tries to strip away.  Continue reading