I recently had the privilege of doing some teaching on a course at Ellel Grange called, ‘Love’s Healing Power’. As I prepared for the sessions I was to teach, I thought about my own experience and struggles over the years to receive love from God and from other people. I remembered Gemma and my early courtship nearly twenty years ago. I was forty-three years old and Gemma was my first girlfriend. I had never had the experience of someone ‘falling in love’ with me and yet here was a godly woman whom I sometimes found gazing at me with intense love and admiration.
I’d love to tell you that I just drank that love and admiration in, but actually the opposite was true. I felt discomfort and even pain at her loving gaze, and unknown to her, because of her visual impairment, many times I inwardly withdrew and turned my face away, unable to meet her gaze. I’m grateful that Gemma didn’t give up on me, and now, approaching our sixteenth wedding anniversary, by God’s grace I’ve moved on a long way in receiving and returning the love of my precious wife.
I realised that the Lord was speaking to me as He reminded me of the above, showing me that the reason for my reaction to Gemma`s loving gaze at that time was because it challenged and contradicted my low self worth and self-rejection. Her love for me, expressed in the way she looked at me, exposed and confronted those strongholds in my life. Here was someone who saw me in a way that I didn’t see myself.
As the Lord spoke these things to me, I realised that for many of us there’s a similar battle when it comes to receiving His love. When He whispers to our hearts that we are precious and honoured and lovely in His sight, His words come against the walls of self-rejection and even self-hatred that we’ve lived behind, sometimes from our earliest years. The good news for each one of us is that the healing power of God’s love is greater than any work or lies of the enemy that have held us captive.
Today, God tells you again, “I love you, yes, you”. If, like me, during my courtship days with Gemma, you feel like looking away and hiding from His love, can I encourage you to begin to open your heart to Him, even just a crack. As you do, the truth of how He sees you will begin to flow into your heart to heal and set you free. I love these words of a song to Jesus by William and Gloria Gaither: ‘I said if You knew, you wouldn’t want me. My scars are hidden by the face I wear. He said, my child My scars go deeper. It was love for you that put them there’.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes, when I look at myself, I can hardly think how You could love me, but You have shown Your love for me by dying on the cross in my place when I was far from You. I choose to open my heart to You and Your love in a new way today. Amen.
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