Persuade Me God
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38
Tonight I’m remembering a day somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-7 years ago, not totally sure. I’m terrible with dates and time, but I remember moments really well and regardless of exactly when, I remember that I was driving towards our house when I saw a billboard that said something about asking God a question. At this point in my life, I had been following Christ for about 10 years, attended Bible college (for a while), and was really involved in church. So when I saw the billboard, I absent mindedly started thinking about what I’d ask God if we were able to have a real face to face where He had to answer.
What happened next totally floored me. I guess since I wasn’t really thinking hard about it, I didn’t have enough time for my religious thought machine to crank out an appropriate question to ask God, so instead, the question that came to the surface from somewhere deep and hidden in a dark corner of my heart was this one… “Do You really love me?”
It was so unexpected and yet so incredibly raw and honest that it instantly opened a floodgate of emotion, and I was totally overwhelmed with the reality that I wasn’t fully convinced that God loved me. Suddenly all the head knowledge I had about God went out the window, and I felt like a little child who had just done something bad and was now standing in front of them too afraid to look up in fear of rejection. It sounds silly, I know, but that’s just where I was. I was a 30 something year old little kid wondering if his God-dad really loved Him. I’m also okay with it, because that childlike honesty is what we really should have any time we come to God. All of the ‘head knowledge’ in the world that comes from what someone else has told us we should think or believe doesn’t mean much of anything if we don’t truly believe those things in the deepest and most honest place of our hearts.
I wish I could tell you that I pulled to the side of the road and watched a dove came down from the sky and then a voice from heaven boomed out like thunder… “you are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Instead, I finished the drive home with my eyes leaking a bit. I was aware that He came near and gave me some kind of a hug, but some lessons in life aren’t learned in a microwave moment. There was a lot of chaos going on in my life at that time (much of it my own fault), and it was just tough to reconcile that God really really really loved me in spite of it all. Especially since I was a ‘Christian’ and should have had a perfect life free from incredibly royal screw-ups of epic proportion… right?! Seriously, I don’t know how it is for other people, but there were a lot of times when I thought that it was probably easier for God to love me when I was living far away from Him in complete rebellion and sin than it probably was for Him to love me as a follower who should already know better.
Fast-forward to now. I was laying in bed recently and thinking of all the screw-ups and failures that still plague my thoughts from time to time. If I can be completely transparent here for a moment, there is rarely a day that goes by in my life where I don’t have a moment that I close my eyes to hold in a tear or two because I feel like such a huge failure. Sure, ‘Glory to God’ I get a few things right from time to time now, but I still just can’t believe that I haven’t gotten some of the more significant and broken messed up areas of my life worked out yet. #justbeinghonest
So anyhow, there I was playing the mental projector highlight reel of my best failures, and the thought that surfaced out of left field, much like the time I was driving down the road, was this thought… “I’m so glad You love me in spite of it all!” A flood of different emotions came rushing in this time, and even typing it now I’m a little overwhelmed at the deep awareness of that love. It was so profound for me because in that moment, it wasn’t my religious programming that was printing out the right answer, it was the sincere voice coming from that inner man who really believed that God loved Him.
Maybe that’s why I love one particular word that the Apostle Paul sneaks into the middle of this famous passage in Romans 8:38 at the top of this post. Paul says, I am persuaded. The word ‘persuaded’ carries with it the idea that there was some persuasion that went along with it. After living in the thick of it and going through all the extremes of His life to that point, Paul communicated a whole lot that he left unwritten when he chose to say, “I am persuaded…” of God’s love.
I guess that’s where I am at this point in my life. I am persuaded. If everything around me comes crashing down tomorrow, and the entire world decides I’m not worth loving… when the dust settles and I close my eyes, the words that rise from my heart are going to be these words again… “I’m so glad You love me in spite of it all!”
So if you’re reading this tonight and you can somehow relate to knowing that you’re supposed to believe that God loves you and yet still struggling with it deep down in the secret place, I want to encourage you to give Him the time and space to present His case to you. Some changes in our beliefs don’t happen in a day or a moment, they take years and decades to shape and develop, but that’s some of the beauty of the process. When you live through some highs and lows and you come out on the other side and you find that He is still walking right there with you… that’s what persuades us of His love.
So my earnest prayer for you tonight is to hold on through the doubt and don’t check out before you hear all He has to say on the subject. If you’re willing to listen to His side of your story, I promise you, you’ll hear an incredible story of overwhelming love.