As soon as he said it, I could feel my heart’s skepticism. I wanted to believe him, but I was having trouble.
God couldn’t love you more.
I’ve heard it said before, in a variety of ways, but before, the words simply entered my brain and went right back out. No time spent pondering the depth of meaning behind them.
But this time the words struck me. And so there I sat in church, my daughter by my side, unable to listen to anything else our pastor said. My mind, fixed on those words, spent the hour trying to conceive how they could be true.
How could God love me just the way I am?
How could he not love me more when I do more, when I serve more, when I become a better person, a better Christian?
I know I am loved. I know I do not need to earn this love. It’s just that I have this thing, it’s called a conscience. And often it sends me down a path.
A path that tells me I need to be a good person. A path that tells me when I’m not, He’s disappointed. A path that leads me away from Him instead of toward Him in those times when I feel badly about my behavior, my actions, my choices. But that’s not how it works.
God couldn’t love you more.
I have a friend who was once surrounded by troubles in his life. He was in pain for sure, and I suggested he might pray. I’ll never forget his response, “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t like me very much right now.”
It made me sad. My friend couldn’t see past his conscience. He, like me, could not fathom that God couldn’t love him more. That God’s grace is enough. No matter what we do. No matter how we act. No matter how many times we mess up or ignore him or walk away. No matter.
So I consider:
If it’s true, couldn’t I quit worrying about doing things to serve him? Yes.
If it’s true, couldn’t I relax, stop working so hard and just enjoy life? Yes.
If it’s true, couldn’t I stop going to church and be lazy on Sunday mornings? Yes.
And if I did, what would God think? I guess if I am to believe my pastor’s words, even if I did all of these things, still, He couldn’t love me more.
It’s hard to imagine such a love. I think of my children, my husband. I think how if you asked me if I could love them more, I’d tell you no. But yet, there are times, if I’m honest, when my feelings ebb and flow. Times when my family members aggravate me, disappoint me, let me down. And I too, aggravate them, disappoint, let them down. This is the way it is with family; you love each other and you also take each other for granted.
But this is not the way it is with God. Romans 3:23-24 tells us that we are all sinners, we all fall short of the glory of God, but yet we are all freed by His grace.
He couldn’t love us more.
So as I pray to understand the strength of this love, will I change my ways? Will I let go of my crazy life, my responsibilities, my Sunday mornings at church (okay, I don’t make it there every Sunday)? No. Because it’s not about me. It’s about Him.
Because I couldn’t love Him more.
And when I do these things, conscience or no conscience, I feel better. I feel His love, His presence. I deepen my relationship with Him.
These actions don’t make me a better person (is there such a thing?); I am not. But they do honor my relationship with Him. They remind me, in times of doubt, that I am already enough, that He couldn’t love me more. And this is reason enough for me to get up on Sunday mornings.