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  • pastor4pocket

A Letter from God

Dear beloved You,

This is a love letter from me, God. I know that you are overwhelmed and stressed out. I see how the conflicts in the world and in your own heart are wearing you down, grinding you down. I see how you are tired, tired, tired. When I watch you working so hard to try to prove your value, to justify your existence, to earn other people’s love and respect, it breaks my heart. I’m sorry if this hurts you, but you need to know: you will never be good enough by your own definitions to relax and someone else’s love will never be enough to untie the knot in your chest. Your love will never be enough to protect or save anyone else. Maybe it’s hard to hear that, harder still to believe it. But if you do, if you can let go of trying to always get it right, if you can let go of trying to control everything all the time, you will find such wonderful freedom.

I know what you’re thinking (I am God, after all!). You’re thinking “oh, I know not to try to be perfect. I know you’re in control and I trust you and give everything over to you.” Honey, this is just you and me. We can be honest. You’ve been doing the right things for the wrong reasons for a long time. Sure, you’re busy with church activities and mission work and you are generous to charities, and you share encouraging Bible verses on Facebook all the time, but at least 27% of it is because you are trying to convince yourself and others that you are good. Another 31% is because you love the institution of the church, and you want to do whatever you can to preserve it. But when you do these things, and they are good things!- when you do them without love in your heart, you’re like a song played in the wrong key. It’s like when the batteries are dying in a child’s musical toy and the song plays too slowly and slurred. Do you know that the best definition of “hypocrisy” is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons?

I don’t tell you this to embarrass you or shame you. I wish you knew me better than that. I tell you this to set you free. I don’t want you to do the right things for the wrong reasons. And to be clear, I don’t want you to do the wrong things either. I tell you this because I love you so much and I want something better for you. I want an abundant, full life for you. And you can’t have that for as long as you are working so hard to get it right that you can’t do it with love. Like one of my beloveds, John Steinbeck, wrote in East of Eden, “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

It’s funny to me that my dear Paul’s words to the church in Corinth are so often used at weddings or other joyous occasions. It’s not that that’s wrong per se, but what’s wrong with a little Song of Solomon at a wedding, you know what I’m saying? Paul’s talking about the hard, grittiness of love. You should hear how annoyed he gets when people put these verses on a greeting card. It’s a hoot, to be honest. Anyway, his words aren’t meant to be a judgment. No human can fully live up to this kind of love. That’s my job. But they are meant to be a direction, a motivation.

Let me tell you a story about the toughness of love. You may have heard of my beloved Florence Nightingale. Today is her birthday, by the way. When she was still young, I called out to her. I told her I had given her everything she needed to be an incredible nurse. I asked her if she would do good for me even if meant she would have no good reputation. You see, she was a lady, born to a wealthy English family. Nursing, or really any other career, was not acceptable to the people in her life. But she said yes to me, and she went for medical training. Her family was so angry and disappointed in her. But she loved me and knew that she had what the world needed.

When that awful Crimean war broke out, she and about 50 other women were sent out into the Ottoman Empire to nurse wounded soldiers. The facility was horrific. About 42% of the soldiers who entered it died. And Florence got to work. In addition to the regular duties of nursing, she wrote letters, forcing the government to build a better facility. She taught people to wash their hands. She called for a Sanitary Commission that created better sewer systems and ventilation. The death rate dropped to 2%. You might hear her called “The Lady with the Lamp,” but she was also called “the lady with the hammer” because once she took a hammer and busted up a locked cabinet when she needed the medicine inside. She became a statistician so she could understand contagion and keep people healthy, and she worked hard to train other nurses and design better hospitals. She was a gem. Here's my point, my dear: love gets to work. It keeps trying and it keeps pushing. Love isn’t about notoriety or if people think you’re nice. Love carries a hammer when it needs to. Love learns statistics sometimes. It writes letters to newspapers.

The line that reads “[love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” can sometimes make you feel like love makes you a doormat. That isn’t right. That isn’t it at all. My beloved Soren Kierkegaard understood. He explained it like this- love believes everything, but love is never deceived. If you love someone, and they trick you, they’re deceiving themselves. You can’t be loving and try to protect yourself from someone else’s trickiness. You’ll hold a part of yourself back, right? Love believes everything because it sees things as they are and still takes the risk. Being disappointed by someone you love is not a failure of love. Or this “love hopes all things- and yet is never put to shame,” Kierkegaard wrote. Remember Jesus’ story about the prodigal son? The young man who abandoned his family to pursue his own interest and squandered his father’s money? His father, his loving father, waited and watched for the son the entire time he was gone. The father loved him so much that he hoped that he would return. Love hopes all things. But if the son had never returned, the father would not have been shamed. This is how love can bear all things, believe all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. The object of your love may never behave how you would wish, but that is not the point. Controlling another was never the point. Loving one another regardless was, is, the point.

If this feels confusing to you, that is alright. We are not equals, and you trust me when I say you don’t want to be God. Paul could be arrogant, but he understood. That’s why he tried to tell you that you can only “see in a mirror, dimly.” That word, “dimly,” really means “riddle or enigma.” You are finite, you are incomplete. That is alright. It’s how I’ve designed it to be. You don’t have to understand it or get it right. You don’t need to be perfect, remember? There will come a time when you are complete and infinite, and when that happens you will know fully, just like I can, right now, know you fully.

But this is not that day. For right now, you have limitations. I don’t mean this to be condescending, but you are like a child taking her first steps, waddling and stumbling. It’s precious! I am a proud Papa watching you take each step. And I would never be mad at you for not running perfectly when you’re just learning to walk. I would no more hold your limitations against you than you do for your own children. I just want you to keep trying! Keep growing! Don’t stop now, even if you fall. Gosh, I love you. I love watching you try.

But anyway, back to what Paul wrote- right now you see in a mirror. What do you see in a mirror? Yourself, right? And so, with the limitations of a mirror, where you can only see yourself, you worry a lot about how you might get hurt, how you look to other people, how you can come out on top. It’s just where you are right now. But when you grow up in me, you aren’t stuck looking in that mirror and worrying about yourself. When you grow up in me, you begin to see others face to face. You stop obsessing about yourself because you can truly see other people. You can love them because you aren’t completely concerned about yourself. You’ll get there. It just takes time.

Here's the most important thing you need to understand: I see you as you are and I love you. That’s how I know that you will get there. I look at you and I love you with perfect patience. I will wait for you forever. I only want good things for you, and my love for you is not demanding for your attention. My love for you isn’t frustrated or competitive. I am not keeping a list of every mistake you’ve ever made so I can throw it in your face (you do that to yourself, but that’s a conversation for another day). I celebrate every glimpse you receive of my truth. I am with you no matter what. I believe you always. I am the father hoping for you to come home. I will never give up.

When you can accept my love, you will begin to be able to love one another like Paul describes. I am modeling it for you. As hard as it is, you will not be able to love like I love until you let me love you. And for as long as you are pretending with me or pretending with yourself, you cannot allow yourself to experience my love.

Please believe me. Please believe in my love for you. Let it wash over you and set you free. Relax in my love like a baby relaxes in his mother’s arms as he drifts off to sleep. My love could never be wasted on you. Trust me when I tell you that you have the capacity to love as I love. I know, because I gave it to you. I created you in love for love. Release your ideas of what you are supposed to do or be. Release your ideas about perfection. Be set free in my love and love one another.


Your Loving God

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