This week I’m going through the lessons of Group’s PandaMania VBS and considering how they apply to more than just kids!
God Loves You, No Matter What
Lead me along the path of everlasting life
After a conversation with a friend this week, I recalled the first time I had to turn over my green card on the classroom behavior chart and leave the yellow card on top. I was in third grade and had forgotten my math homework. The teacher asked us to hand it in and I quickly zipped open my backpack to grab up my finished paper. Only it wasn’t there. So, I pushed things around gently and then more energetically. I scrambled through the papers and then yanked everything out. Slowly I realized my paper wasn’t in there. I had nothing to turn in.
So, I had to shuffle over to the behavior bulletin board and take my punishment. A yellow card for Heather. Bright yellow so everyone in the class could see I messed up. I forgot. I was careless and irresponsible.
Embarrassed, I slinked back to my desk and slumped down hoping to become invisible in my chair. My face was burning red hot, the kind of shame that makes your ears sear into the sides of your head.
But, when I sheepishly glanced at the bulletin board the next morning, I saw a green card next to my name again. It was a new day and with it came a rush of joy that the mistakes of yesterday could be so simply erased and forgotten.
It was the astonishing grace of a fresh start.
That’s what Christ did for us. Raising us up from the dead. Taking our place on the cross and erasing the record of our wrongs so that we could stand before the Most Holy God and look . . . holy and pure.
He saw you and me as worth saving even when we were splattered with the mud of sins and caked in the foul dirt of this world. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
So, what should we do with this amazing grace?
I know what I do most of the time—forget it, take it for granted, or, even worse, nullify it by trying to be perfect. I begin to live in a spiritual world of musts, shoulds, do’s, don’ts, shalls and shall nots.
The Psalmist wrote, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore, You are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).
Yes, we would be pounded into the ground if we carried the weight of our sins on our wimpy shoulders. We couldn’t stand in His presence much less crawl face to the ground before His throne.
But with Him there is forgiveness. Praise God!
The Psalmist ends that thought with, “Therefore, You are feared.” Not the fright of might, though. Not the run and hide kind of fear. Not obeying God to escape His wrath. Not surrendering to Him in order to earn His love.
The Old Testament Bible Knowledge Commentary says this is the fear of “worship and obedience. The Scriptures state that many results come from fearing the Lord; the most notable is that the person keeps himself from sin.”
In January of this year, I felt the heavy nudging of the Holy Spirit asking me two questions, one of which was, “Are you ready for where I want to take you next?” The God who loved me passionately was asking me to walk in worship and obedience—holy fear in response to abundant grace.
“That depends,” I answered. “Where are we going? How long will it take? What is the expense-to-benefit ratio?”
It sounds mercenary, but those are the questions that rumbled around in my head and heart for weeks. Was it safer to stay where I was? Was safer necessarily better?
His question sounds so simple and easy when we belt out “I surrender all” in a church service. Then there’s that moment when God takes you up on your offer and asks you to surrender your plans for the future, your comfort, your life, and you wonder how much “all” actually is.
And then I felt it, the pull of performance and the tug on my heart to just do what God wants so He’ll love me, so I won’t let Him down, so I can live up to what a Bible Study girl should do. It was a works-based response of duty rather than the bride’s response of affection to the overwhelming passion and love of her Groom.
So I waited to answer God. I waited until I truly believed that God would love me no matter what. That the choices I make here may affect God’s plans for me, may affect my impact on others, may affect how I am blessed, but they will never affect His unconditional and unending love. Only then, in the light of so much grace, knowing that I answered Him out of love and not duty, I bashfully answered, “I do.” I do want to go with You. I do want whatever you desire for me.
Why do we obey Him? Why do we whisper “I do” when He asks us to surrender? Why do we choose the difficult right over the much easier wrong?
So He will love us? No—because He loves us. That’s what we are learning at VBS tonight—-God loves us, no matter what.
We ask Him to “lead me along the path of everlasting life” because there’s no other place where we can walk next to Him, our tiny palm nestled inside His nail-scarred hand (Psalm 139:24).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.