I once heard a landscaper jokingly dub my mother the “queen of boxwoods.”
He was spot on—ancient boxwoods surrounded our house, outlining every bed and sidewalk. On hot, dry summer days the “queen” often sent her loyal subjects (my sister Lisa and me) out to water the boxwoods by hand. (Mama’s boxwoods are pictured above)
One sticky, overcast afternoon, I was really tired of watering. I held the hose, swatting at mosquitoes and praying for rain. God must have been listening, because soon it began to pour. By the time we turned off the water and rolled up the hoses, we were soaked. Excitedly, we sprinted up the porch stairs and paused to catch our breath.
“Look at the boxwoods!” Lisa whispered. “That’s so weird.”
Rain drummed against the roof as we stood on the porch, mesmerized, watching the giant, green boxwoods visibly relax their branches. It looked like the bushes were slowly opening their arms wide to receive water from above. Fat raindrops quickly saturated the thick outer layer of leaves, and then soaked the inward branches. Finally, the rain began to pool around their shallow, tangled roots.
We were delighted! We gave each other high-fives and raced back into the house. We knew the heavy rain would sustain the boxwoods for days.
It’s kind of like that for us, spiritually, too. Like the boxwoods, our souls need to open up and drink in God’s love, His living water, in order to thrive. Part of seeking to know God includes opening our hearts to receive His love, daily. The knowledge of His love can be stored in our souls (Rom. 5:5), like water is stored in a jar, filling us until it overflows to others.
Of course, most of us know (intellectually) that God loves us. Some of us grew up singing songs about it in Sunday school. We read about God’s love in the Bible and even on billboards and bumper stickers. We often tell others that God loves them. But do we really grasp it?
I don’t, always.
When I feel like nobody cares about me, it’s easy to forget that God cares.
A bout of anxiety can leave me feeling like God must be leaning back in His easy chair, totally unaware of my troubles. When someone treats me harshly, it’s easy to wonder if God might be a bit harsh too. When I fail to love others, it’s difficult for me to imagine that God still loves me just the same as He did yesterday and will tomorrow.
In Ephesians, Paul admits that comprehending God’s love isn’t easy. He prays that God will help the Ephesians (and us) grasp it:
“. . . May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it . . .” (Eph. 3:17-19 TLB, emphasis mine).
Paul wants us to experience God’s love, even though we can’t fully comprehend it, because this helps us take hold of the reality in which every child of God lives. This is the truth that sets us free. God’s love helps us live and love differently. A growing sense of being loved infuses our minds with peace and hope. The more we store His love away in our hearts, the more we have to give away to others.*
What a tragedy it is to be loved like this and to still act as if we’re unloved. I know. I regret the years I wasted living as if God didn’t love me. It made me feel empty inside and needy–always striving for something more.
Praise God I don’t have to live that way! And neither do you.
Today, no matter how you may feel, accept and rejoice in the truth that God loves you! Here are a few beautiful verses to fill your heart with the Lord’s great love:
“I love you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts.” John 15:9 TPT
“Do not be afraid. for I have bought you and made you free. I have called you by name. You are mine!” Isaiah 43:1 NLV
“I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” Isaiah 46:4 NLT
My sister, Lisa Yokley, and my brother, Raymond Jones and me in 1973, about the time the story above took place. Our 70’s “mod” clothes are too funny!
*This post is an excerpt from my book, Seeking a Familiar Face. It is filled with encouraging stories just like this one!
To get your copy, click here.
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