4 Ways to Recognize the Lavish Love of God
I’ve always been a dreamer. Which explains why when my husband and I were planning our wedding I envisioned an elaborate affair. I dreamt up floor to ceiling backdrops of cascading white fabric, accented by columns of varying sizes and topped with tall tower vases of huge rose arrangements. When my ideal encountered reality we actually had a little chiffon fabric and a bell hanging from the ceiling tiles: not what I anticipated.
Generally, my fantasies regarding love tend to be on the extravagant end of the continuum. With expectations in the clouds I am sometimes left with disappointment. My ideals have not just forced me to rethink my relationship with human beings but with God as well.
I have had grandiose expectations for Him too: answer every prayer request immediately, meet all my needs and wants the way I want Him to, and bend to my every whim. Of course, I would never say such self-centered things out loud, but my behavior periodically reveals the unspoken desires of my heart. I realize however, that God is not controlled by mankind, and we cannot base His love for us on answered prayer of the lack thereof.
This revelation prompted me to evaluate my understanding of 1 John 3: 1 that says,
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!. . .”
When I hear the word lavish it conjures up images of excessive fairytale chivalry: expensive, elaborate, and personal. Ashamedly, I have not always associated the word lavish with God’s love.
On the contrary, there are times when God’s love seems like anything but the latter. After repeated times of unanswered prayer God can appear to be depersonalized and unconcerned about the details of our lives. Thus, His love seems more nonexistent than lavish.
I have seen this uncommunicated belief as I’ve stared across the table into the eyes of women struggling with infertility, a difficult husband, or an incurable disease. Their plights and my own difficulties have left me bewildered and on my knees questioning a God who says His love is lavish.
And there have been occasions where I’ve wanted to return this lavish love of God because it was so contrary to what I thought it should be. I’ve questioned, “If God is love how can He allow. . .?” I imagine we all can fill in the blank with some unexpected occurrence that seems like the antithesis of God’s love.
The aim of this new series is to offer a few ways to reframe our view of God’s lavish love. If you have struggled to embrace the love of God, join me for the next few weeks as we talk about how to recognize His lavish love in our lives.
#1 His Words
It has taken me reaching my 30’s in order to realize the Bible is one big love letter from God to his people. Previously, I’ve limited it to being a history book or an instructional manual. Although, this is in part true, that perspective does not take into account the intentional words of God for His children.
The entire Bible is a reflection of God’s extravagant love us. From the old to the new testament we see God’s love expressed through creation, protection, correction, instruction, and fulfilled promises. Countless times the Bible we are reminded of His love.
Deuteronomy 7: 9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast loveand faithfulness.
Jeremiah 31: 3
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
1 Corinthians 13: 4 -8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
When we are left disillusioned by life’s unexplainable and sometimes merciless challenges we can remind ourselves of God’s love through His word. Relentlessly, God’s love persists in spite of the curve balls we face in life. The Bible reminds us that God’s love is never ceasing, individualized and lavish.