Wednesday, March 6, 2013


There are parts of my Christian identity that I struggle to grasp, while other realities require little effort. A non-struggle has been to see myself as a sinner desperately in need of grace.

Don't misunderstand. Doubtless I don't even come close to comprehending the full ugliness of my sin nor its offense against my Creator. But on a more basic intellectual level, I have never wrestled with a sense that God should accept me because of me, because of my own goodness or merit. My sin looms large and, at least in some small measure, I'm inclined to see the ugliness of it.

Broken, ugly and sinful, desperately in need of redemption is the part that I get.

Beloved daughter of God made breathtakingly beautiful in Christ’s righteousness is the part of my identity that’s more of a struggle to believe. For many Christians, and for many different reasons, a deeply-rooted knowledge and acceptance of God’s love can be difficult to grasp.

This past Valentine's Day there was a thick envelope adorned with pretty stamps and shiny heart stickers awaiting me in the mailbox. Inside this bulky card were three little Valentine's Day cards sent from my Mom to my children. Their three cards were opened, enjoyed, and have since been colored in or chewed upon and have been put to rest in the recycling. My card, however, has been opened and read and saved and tucked inside my Bible, nestled between the pages of Ephesians chapter 2 and 3.

These are the words my Mom wrote inside that card:
Dear Justin and Elisha,
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power … to grasp how VAST is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18). The whole passage is amazing – Ephesians 3:14-21! I have been reading it every day in this new year.
We love you and miss you.
Mom and Pop
Since receiving it, my Mom's card has prompted me to read Ephesians 3 over and over again too.

I wonder if the struggle to believe and accept the depth of God’s love for His people, for me, is connected to roots that are too delicate and have yet to grow deeper into Christ. Is it connected to looking in the wrong places for demonstrations of God’s love?

In her card, my Mom was referencing a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to men and women in the Ephesian church whom he loved. In it, there is a prayer about love that pierces the heart:
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. ~ Ephesians 3
When I struggle to believe that I’m a beloved, beautiful daughter of the living God, maybe it’s because I’m looking in the wrong places to see His love. After such a ready admission of my own sin and guilt, am I somehow still looking inside, to myself, to my own efforts to find His acceptance?

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are near, a time of year when people redeemed by blood reflect upon the One whose blood was shed.

The cross, then the resurrection. The shadows of sin past and present may loom large, bringing darkness and doubt. But there is a place to come where sin is forever overshadowed first by the darkest day and then made no more through brilliant Light.

When I doubt the depth of His love, there is a place to come and believe.

The cross. Bloody, and gruesome. Nails hammered into hands and feet. The sacrificial lamb. The place where God's love was forever demonstrated, though it is too great to understand fully.

About Ephesians 3 John Calvin wrote this:
"The love of Christ is held out to us as the subject which ought to occupy our daily and nightly meditations, and in which we ought to be wholly plunged. He who is in possession of this alone has enough."
The cross of our Saviour. The new covenant in His blood. The forever demonstration of God's love. A people, clothed and made beautiful in Christ's righteousness.  And yet I doubt His love? Surely this is enough.