Deep within the human heart is a quiet voice that constantly asks, “Does God really love me?” It’s the same question that was planted years ago by the serpent into the soil of the hearts of our first parents in the garden. Can I really trust Him? And as the serpent slithered away, the deadly blow was already delivered with the poison of our mistrust of God.
This doesn’t go away when you become a Christian, by the way. It just shifts. I might trust God with my salvation, but when it comes to my life, I still feel like I’m being slighted; cheated even. Missing out on something I deserve.
For some of us this takes the form of wishing we weren’t single, and the temptation to believe that life will really begin once we’re married.
For others of us it takes the form of childlessness, and thinking that life will be so much happier, so much fuller, once we have kids.
Still for others of us it takes the form of daydreaming about no longer being married. The person we married isn’t what we thought they were, and we want out.
At the heart of all of these temptations is a deeper temptation. The one that says God doesn’t really know what he’s doing with my life. Besides, if he really loved me he would give me what I want. Somehow, some way, I am missing out on God’s best for me. Why is God holding out on me? Does He really love me?
My family and I recently got back from a cross country trip to LA, and in the name of preserving our sanity, we gave our kids a bundle of Apple products to play with on the trip. My old iPhone became my son's obsession (Nothing makes you feel like a better parent than being at the Grand Canyon and all your 7yr old can talk about is how much he needs to charge his iPhone). To the point where as soon as we got home, we had to take it away and hide it from him. Because we love him, we took the phone away, before it destroyed his ability to enjoy anything else.
The sad part is that my son has something better than my old iPhone. He has me. He’s my son, I’m his dad. And even though I fall short in so many ways, our relationship is worth so much more than an old iPhone. I’m the one who even made it possible for him to have an iPhone in the first place.
Sadly I often see myself in him. David Foster Wallace once said that he never let go of anything in his life without it having his claw marks on it. Amen. I have a tendency to mistake the gifts of God for God, to love the blessings of God more than God. And the things I want from Him slowly begin to crowd him out of my life and more importantly, my heart.
It seems like this has always been Satan’s design, for God’s people to mistake his gifts for Him, to love his blessings more than the blessing of loving and being loved by Him. And the fear of somehow missing out on God's best if we aren't careful or faithful enough.
The reality is we can never miss out on God's best because he’s already given us his best in Jesus. For as much as we’ve proved over and over that we would prefer almost anything to God, it almost seems God loves us more than he loves himself. As much selfishness as there is in us, there isn’t an ounce in him.
In our idolatry we’ve substituted many things for Jesus. In his love He substituted Himself for us.
Octavius Winslow once reflected on this and wrote: “Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy; but the Father, for love!”
The only remedy to the poison of doubting the love of God is the balm of the cross which says, "Even when you were at your worst, God loved you at his best."