by Barbara Latta
This month two books I have contributed devotions and articles to have been released.
It’s not a coincidence that both focus on the love of God. Maybe the Lord is trying to tell us something.
He really, really loves us!
You can read the blog post about my contribution to For Love’s Sake here.
Abba’s Heart, published by CrossRiver Media, is a collection of 31 stories from a variety of authors who share about the difference the heart of our heavenly Father made in their lives.
Here is an excerpt of my contribution.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16 NKJV).
One night this little girl was terrorized by a dream that she was lost in the woods and couldn’t find her way out. Darkness surrounded her and the trees reached out to grab at the small body.
Her feet struggled to move through the thick ivy-covered ground. She couldn’t get away. She felt lost and hopeless. She woke up screaming for her mother.
To a seven-year-old, attending church and being good was just so a person could go to heaven. And I thought I was good because I didn’t tell lies, steal or say bad words.
It wasn’t about a relationship with God. Then I had the dream. My best friend, whose dad was our pastor, told me her dad said we were lost. The only lost I knew about was in the dream I had.
Our pastor took me and his daughter aside and talked to us. When he told these two second graders what being lost meant, I realized Jesus was the way to heaven and I couldn’t get there because I was good. In my child’s mind, I was lost in the woods and Jesus found me.
I made the profession of faith and was baptized. I didn’t understand a lot and my life didn’t change much. I only realized now I had a ticket to heaven.
I was in church every week, heard the Bible read, went to Vacation Bible School and faithfully filled out my offering envelope for Sunday School with the boxes checked emphasizing all my accomplishments of the week.
But therein lies the problem. Performance. The more I tried to be good, please God and not disobey, the more disillusioned I became. I compared myself to others. I didn’t measure up.
I tried to read my Bible every day, but when a day went by without opening the Word, condemnation reigned in my mind. If I fought with my brothers or talked back to my parents, I felt as if I had fallen from the pedestal of goodness and needed to climb the ladder of approval back up to God again.
John 3:16 was probably the first scripture verse I memorized as a child. This told me God loved the world. Since I was part of the world that fact meant He loved me, but I just felt like part of the masses. Not an individual with a one on one relationship. God still felt distant.
My perception of God was that I had to be good, or He would be angry with me if I was bad. All through my growing up and teenage years, I kept going to church, reading my Sunday School lesson, attending church camp, re-dedicating my life every chance I got, but my relationship with God didn’t change. I got tired of trying…
Have you ever felt this way?
As believers we can get so caught up in trying to do the right thing, we forget WHY we want to do the right thing.
Our relationship with God is not about performance; it is about the love that came down from heaven in a Baby Boy who grew up to be the Son of Man and died for our sins as the Son of God.
We don’t need to work at it because He did all the work. We only need to accept and live in that love.
Read the rest of my article in Abba’s Heart. I know you will be blessed by the stories all the authors share.
Join the conversation and share your thoughts.