“Who can seperate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” -Romans 8:35-36
Jesus loves me this I think hope know!
“How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That he should give his only Son
And make a wretch His treasure
“Why should I gain from his reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom”
A young Christian man was once confronted by his skeptical college teacher about the “love” of this God he believed in. She boldly questioned, “If your God is so loving, why is there only one way to heaven and everyone who doesn’t accept it goes to hell?” The young man thought about this and wisely responded “I don’t know why God didn’t make 10 ways to heaven, or 7… or some other number. I’m just thankful he made a way for me to get to heaven (considering the condition I was in).”* God made a way to us. We did not make a way to God. We’ve heard about it so many times that it is easy for this idea to lose its excitement and power but God’s love truly is the amazing story of the ages. God loves us so much that He initiated the process, paid the highest cost, and made a way for us to have a relationship with Him on earth and spend eternity with Him.
Paul asks what can separate us from this love. Can tribulation (which can literally mean pressure), or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? It has been said that God takes us to the top of a hill to look into the distance and see the awesome vision He has for us, then He leads us down through the valley to mold us into that vision. It is in the valley that many fall away. It is in the hard times that we feel forgotten and even abandoned by God. But these verses remind us that absolutely nothing can separate us from His love. Often the reason that we fail to recognize His love in the trials of life is because we have a false perception of success. Success is not achieving things that make me money, make me laugh, or make me famous. Success is achieved when my character is made more like Christ’s (Col. 1:28), when I make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20), and when I bear fruit that will last (John 15:16). These are the things that bring true joy and it is through the deepest love that God refines us and helps us achieve these. It is in this light that we should evaluate the shadows of our valleys. When we understand true success, we position ourselves to be able to understand true love.
Years ago, there was a Christian in Communist China who was arrested for his faith and thrown into prison. He was placed in solitary confinement with little food for 12 months. This man survived these harshest of circumstances but when he was released he could barely walk and even the sunlight hurt his eyes. People asked him “what was it like for you in there?” He softly smiled and replied, “It was like being on a honeymoon with Jesus!” God’s love will always be there for us no matter how trying the circumstance!
God loves me so much that he wanted to be my Father! He wants a personal, daily relationship with me – right now in 2012! The realization of what this deep, personal love really is can means the difference between working for Jesus or working with Him. It means the difference between doing things to make myself more “Godly” vs. doing things because I am God’s. It means the difference between doing good things to ease my conscience and try to earn a better standing with Him vs. doing “everything as unto the Lord” because I know how much He loves me, I want my daily actions to be pleasing in his sight, and I know His plan for me is the most rewarding.
Sometime back in the mid-1900s, there lived a young man in the sparsely-populated woods of northern Michigan. He had an older brother whom he dearly loved. One day, the young man’s “hero” was summoned to the army and went away to war. He was tragically killed and never returned. The young man was devastated. In reality he would never see his brother again and yet he could not accept this – his “hero” would return some day he told himself. The boy would eagerly walk to the train tracks and wait, expectantly watching the horizon for the first glimpse of his brother coming home. He made this trip for over 12 years, waiting there day after day but never saw his brother again! As sad as this story is, it helps us realize the joy of God’s love – because it’s just the opposite! This young man would never again be united with his brother, we can never be separated from God’s love! The young man’s brother would never return, God’s love will never leave! But because this young man could not comprehend the fact that his brother was really gone, he did not live in the reality of his true circumstances and this defined his life for over 12 years. May we live in the full reality of the true greatness of God’s love! Someone once said, “I don’t have hold of God’s promises, God’s promises have hold of me.” His great love is one of those promises!
*not a direct quote