I’m a man of many faults.
It should come as no surprise, especially if you know me closely, to read those words. I’m a 24-year-old man who knows he doesn’t have it all together but still acts like he does.
I preach a message of hope, assurance, and redemption to those who need it, yet I struggle to believe those things myself. I often choose what I know is wrong over what is right only because it feels good.
I’m a liar.
I’m a hypocrite.
I’m full of lust.
I’m full of pride.
I’ve spent the majority of my adult years as bitter, unforgiving individual only because my plans didn’t play out as I had hoped. I’ve begged for forgiveness from God over my shortcomings only to find myself committing the same act a few moments later.
What’s wrong with me?
I’m at war with what I know to be true and what I feel. My spirit longs to be better, but my flesh begs me to compromise.
I come to you today, after an extended period of online silence, with a pervading question:
How can God love me?
Time and time again I fall into the same trap of my own consciousness. I justify my actions. I pretend that my decisions won’t affect those around me. I choose my selfish will over the needs of others.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m well aware of my “sinfulness” today.
Have you ever come to this point? Wondering why you choose the things that you do? Wishing you could break free of that one habit that keeps dragging you down? Hoping that you will become a better person?
Wondering how God could really love you?
I’ve met a lot of people who have posed this question, and I believe we’d be lying if we were to say it had never crossed our mind.
We all carry burdens and regrets that haunt our memories. We bear the weight of who we were and who we’ve become.
This ball-and-chain kind of mentality makes it difficult for us to believe in a God who loves us regardless. Let alone find peace in the words of a caring friend who tries to assure us.
Can I tell you a story?
I’ve been a “Christian” since I was 16. I was raised in a pastor’s home. For the first 16 years of my life, I didn’t understand the depth and weight of God’s love for me. That isn’t to say that once I hit 16 I figured it all out. However, it hit me like it never had before.
You see, I have the propensity to beat myself up when I make a mistake. It stems from an inner desire for perfection. I’ve grown up longing to be enough for everyone around me. I couldn’t accept failure. I had to be the ultimate epitome of what God commanded me to be.
I grew up believing that God had rules for those who said that they loved him. It was a standard, a bar, that we had to strive to meet. The “Christian” life was all about continually growing until we met that specific marker of perfection.
As you can imagine, I spent a lot of time frustrated by my inability to measure up. I felt that I couldn’t make God happy because I kept messing up. I tried everything.
I tried everything. I tried reading my Bible. I tried praying more. I went to church. I got involved. I asked for forgiveness religiously. In fact, the consistency of my prayers was nothing but “God, forgive me. God, please, forgive me. Forgive me?”
I lived my life in a perpetual state of anxiety. I couldn’t afford to lose God’s love. I knew that I was worthless without it. What if God became sick of me?
What if He stopped loving me?
What if I went to hell?
Those ideas terrorized my mind. The most faithful of friends sought to encourage my heart by preaching of God’s faithful love, but my heart wouldn’t hear it. I felt that the only way God would continue loving me was if I smothered myself in self-doubt. I was a miserable wretch.
I had no peace. I had no intimacy with the God that I claimed to believe in.
I can’t tell you how or when, but the truth that set me free fell upon my heart. As an avalanche covers the mountainside, so did God’s love for me sweep over an anxiety ridden heart.
The faithfulness of the God’s love never has and never will have anything to do with my ability to measure up.
The reality of who God is never depended upon what I could or could not accomplish. It had nothing to do with me and I realized that it never has.
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
The honest truth is that I will live a life full of failure. The Bible says that we are all sinners in desperate need of a savior. We have no ability within ourselves to merit or gain God’s mercy. We all deserve a life in hell because of our sin.
It’s not easy to read, I know. I’m sitting in my chair mentally agreeing with that sentiment, but my sinfulness says that I deserve better.
Here’s the best part about it all, though. God, being who He is, saw us in our natural, sinful state and loved us anyway. In fact, He sent His son to become a sacrifice for us. He took the weight of our mistakes and bore it upon his shoulders.
“It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!” Ephesians 2:3-5 (MSG)
That guilt that you’re feeling? Jesus took it upon himself to give you peace.
The depression you’re experiencing? Jesus felt it himself in order to give you hope.
This hope rests on the fact that Jesus will always be good even when we are not. This hope rests on the fact that Jesus still loves you and I even when we don’t deserve it.
I can’t imagine the weight of what you are bearing. I came into this day with my own kind of burdens, but I have to trust in what God says about himself. He cannot lie, nor can He go back on His promises.
How can God love you and me?
Because it has nothing to do with who we are and has everything to do with who He is.
Trust in His love. Let Him take your burdens. Let Him have your regrets. He can handle it. He wants to handle it. He wants your heart.
You’re not alone.
You are loved.
You are valued.
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