Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Living Less Loved"

Before we left Oklahoma, we had the privilege of hearing Wayne Jacobsen speak at our church. Some of you may recognize his name--he helped publish The Shack with William Paul Young. Since moving to Arkansas, I have thought about his message many times, and I happened upon one of his books (at Wal-Mart, of all places!!!).

The book is He Loves Me! Learning to Live in the Father's Affection. I am not quite halfway through it, and it has blessed me tremendously. I am highly recommending it.

One of the key ideas in the book is something I have struggled with my entire life, and I suspect you have struggled with it too--"Living Less Loved." What does that mean?

Wayne says this,

"When we worry that God will ask us for some horrible sacrifice, we live less loved.

When we indulge ourselves in sin, we live less loved.

When we give in to anxiety in the crush of our circumstances, we live less loved.

When we try to earn God's favor by our own efforts, we live less loved.

Even when we get caught up in religious obligations to make ourselves acceptable to him, we live less loved."

We tend to believe that when good things are happening to us, God is happy with us and is pleased. However, when bad things are happening to us, we believe that God must be angry with us and is punishing us for something we did or didn't do. We play a game of "He loves me. He loves me not." We spend all our time trying to figure out if He really loves us or not.

This is hard because EVERYTHING else in our lives uses that system of reward. When you obey your parents, you're a good boy/girl. When you get bad grades in school, everyone is disappointed with you. This system is a human system, but we mistakenly attribute it to our Father in heaven. There are a lot of rules in the Bible, but God honestly doesn't think you're going to keep them all! He knows, in fact, that it is impossible for you to do so! This is precisely why He sent Jesus--so that in His grace, He could have a relationship with you apart from works!

I mentioned that this is something I have struggled with in life. I truly believed (and still struggle with the belief) that God was often displeased with me because I wasn't doing enough. This may sound silly to you, but let me share it in hopes of others finding freedom. I used to keep a prayer journal. After a summer camp, I was told that the proper way to pray was to use the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). So, I began to take this method and apply it to my prayer journal. I truly believed that it would please God if I didn't forget to do all four sections. My legalism flourished as I followed the formula to a "T". It became obsessive and consuming as I realized that I had a lot more supplication than adoration and my confession list could never be long enough, and my thanksgiving list was way too short!

Before I realized it (which wasn't until college, actually!), I was in bondage to my prayer journal! I was living less loved--I was "caught up in religious obligations to make (my)self acceptable to Him". I wasn't walking in freedom or in His love. I have many of these broken places in me. He is slowly healing each one and revealing new places He wants to touch.

I'm certain you have experienced this. Ask Him to show you these broken places, and let Him heal you.

"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 all knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19


  1. this is so good... and goes right along with our church service on sunday. we, too, had a guest speaker - Todd White - who is currently working with the 700 Club, traveling around the country just to pray with people and tell them that Jesus loves them. he stressed that we can do no good to anyone else until we let go of our past and failures and embrace the Father's love as our only source and need. very liberating - and SIMPLE - which makes it complicated for those of us who find solace in our legalism at times.

  2. I have struggled with this my entire life. The Lord has brought me through a lot, and shown me so many things, but I still have setbacks. The one thing that He used to help me is that He has shown me his Father's heart! I heard a message from Mike Bickle on the Father's heart, and he said that the the 15th chapter of Luke, with the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, are about "how God feels about US while we are in the process of recovering from our own compromises".

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head and I don't think it sounds silly at all. I think a lot of people would read it and think, 'well yeah, of course if something bad is going on in a person's life, that means they did something wrong.' A lot of people pray that way publicly.
    I think it is hard for everyone to accept the blessings and understand that things happen and it isn't always a consequence.
    God is too big to put Him in our box of rules.


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