SHINE Daily

The Advent of Love

Remember the old song, “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places”? For a big chunk of my life, that could have been my theme song. I so desperately wanted to be loved in a romantic way, but I seemed to be drawn to men who reinforced the negative things I believed about myself.
 

Secret beliefs I tried to hide but were always flowing inside of me like a river. Thoughts like, “I am bad, I am deficient, I am way too much trouble, I am not enough...” Sound familiar?

Those kinds of thoughts can be so deeply embedded inside of us that we don’t even know how they influence us. The way it played out in my life was that I found myself in an endless cycle of trying to earn love. It was exhausting!

If only I were prettier, skinnier, smarter, more successful, more spiritual…

Earning love is a dead-end job. It doesn’t pay anything, there are no benefits, and there is no growth potential and you never really get what you’re trying to earn. And, yet, so many people live like that’s their job – just be good enough and you will get the love you need. When you live that way, it will leak out into all your relationships, even your relationship with God.

Do you know what it’s like to look for love in all the wrong places? If you’ve ever found yourself worn out and exhausted trying to earn love, let me tell you about a better way.

This is a story of two babies. Both are true.

Baby #1:
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”


All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means 'God with us')." - Matthew 1:18-23

Baby #2:
I was pregnant once, a long time ago. For so many reasons, I never thought it could happen to me, but it did. I was single, scared, and in an unhealthy relationship with a man who didn’t love me. He insisted I get an abortion and I could have refused, but I didn’t.

I was never lonelier than I was in that time of my life. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I was ashamed, confused, and I felt rejected.

I made the appointment and went to the clinic. In a matter of minutes, I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

That was more than 25 years ago, and I still feel the pain of that decision. Even at the time, I had an intuitive understanding that abortion was wrong, and I wanted to have the baby. I pleaded with my boyfriend, but he would not be moved. So, I gave in to what was the easiest thing to do. I can’t blame someone else for the decision. Against my own conscience and my own desires, I ended the life of my baby. It was my greatest sorrow and shame.

So, what does baby #1 have to do with baby #2?

Check out what that narrative says again in Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

A baby was born over 2,000 years ago who saves people from their sins. He is Jesus, God in the flesh. Love come to earth, and He gives His love in a way that is in complete opposition to my old strategy of earning love. He loves me as I am. I don’t have to perform for him. I don’t have to be prettier, skinnier, smarter, more successful, more spiritual. I don’t have to do anything to get him to love me. He just loves me! He was born for me. He offers me a love that is thorough, a love that knows me completely.

He offers me a love that is not a feeling or a whim, a love that will not be deterred or deferred, a love that is unshakeable, a love that seals and holds and bonds.

He gives me a love that is stronger than anything else in the universe, even stronger than Gorilla Glue. Have you tried this stuff? Their tag line is, “For the Toughest Jobs on Planet Earth,” but they don’t know what I know. The toughest job on planet Earth is saving people like me from their sins. Only One could do it – Jesus, the perfect Son of God, who gave His life for me.

Only One loved me before I loved Him.

Only One knew everything about me, every flaw, every horrible act I would ever commit and loved me still.

Only One could make something beautiful out of my life and out of me.

Only One could change my story and those negative thoughts flowing in me like a river to be thoughts of being treasured, cherished, safe, and fully known.

Only One could change my song from “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places” to “Reckless Love.” Do you know it?

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God…

This week of Advent is about love. So, this Christmas, it’s time to quit that job of earning love. Consider the story of the two babies. Perhaps for you, baby #2 represents the worst thing you can think of that you’ve done or ever will do. I have quite a list of things like that that I thought would surely keep me unlovable for the rest of my life.

But He ripped up the list. I turned over the pain of my baby to the Lord a long time ago, and He’s still showing me such tenderness and mercy and how His love heals our deepest wounds. He is so wonderful. In Jesus, I have love that I will never have to earn, and yet it will always be mine.

In His love, I am not too much trouble. I am enough. I am safe. And so are you.

Co-host of Tracey, Steve, and Dave on SHINE-FM.