May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love…
Ephesians 3:17 AMP
I don’t have words for most of what I took in at the “Love Reigns” conference over the weekend, but I have begun to see the outline of my life’s greatest adventure and highest calling. It was hidden in plain sight, written on my heart and mind. I even recite it regularly. Paraphrased, I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind—and I will receive the love He has for me.
Martha asked a question at the conference: What is love? The answer was deceptively simple: God. God is love. That’s one of the first things I learned in Sunday School as a child. God is love. Easy, right? I certainly thought so. I now think that unpacking the truth of those three little words will take eternity.
That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]…
Ephesians 3:18 AMP
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians gives me such hope! For the Holy Spirit to birth such a prayer through Paul means that God desires all of His “devoted people” to experience the “breadth and length and height and depth” of God’s love. And God is love. That means that the Creator of All, the Most High God, our Abba wants us to experience the fullness of HIM. He doesn’t just want me to know of Him; God wants to be known by me, experienced by me.
When I was a girl, I had a best friend and it was an easy, carefree thing. I called a few people my best friends, because if I liked you a lot, then you were just the best! I was a bit slow on the uptake, but by the time I hit middle school, I understood the grave seriousness of having (and being) a best friend. The best friend was the secret keeper. In girl-world, that meant that they had the privilege of knowing how you really felt about everything. They had access to your heart, the soft underbelly so carefully concealed from an increasingly superficial, cruel and deceitful world.
I’ve had a few best friends over the years, and the warmth of being exclusively known and loved by another person – and knowing that you know them better than anyone else as well – is very real. As mimicries of True Love go, it’s easily in the top five. The drive to love and be loved uniquely and exclusively appears to be universal, but I’ll speak for myself alone because that may not be true. A corner of my heart was always unsatisfied with the conditions of discipleship as I understood them (which was not well). From time to time, the same resentful thought would rise in my heart: “God, You want me to love You above and beyond anything and anyone else, but You only love me the same as everyone else. Am I just #362980 in Your cosmic harem?”
For years now, when that thought presented itself, I apologized to God and rebuked myself for being an ungrateful wretch. And that was usually the end of the matter, until it surfaced again. But all that changed over the weekend.
[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!
Ephesians 3:19 AMP
It’s through these three verses in Ephesians that I glimpsed the possible impossibility of loving God and being loved by Him exclusively. You and I are created by God, unique in the whole universe. When God loves me, He does so very specifically to my own heart. My relationship with God doesn’t look like John’s or Martha’s or yours…because we’re all unique. And when the singular love of God fills me, flowing out of me and back to Him and to all He puts in my path, it’s utterly unique to the vessel He created in me. I can honestly say that no one in the universe is able to love God the way that I can—and you can say the same thing.
The great adventure of loving God and being loved by Him is not some dime-a-dozen operation. It’s not rote or ho-hum or same-old-story. God loves me as uniquely and exclusively as I am meant to love Him! He is my secret-keeper, and I am His. I will come to know God in a way that is completely different from your experience, and vice versa. And when we come together as His Body, His Church, we will have the honor and privilege of seeing different aspects of His beautiful countenance, hearing new inflections in His perfect voice, and being loved by different facets of His great heart. God is love, and unveiling the vast mystery contained in these three little words needs a myriad of unique vessels and the entire span of eternity. I’m part of that, and so are you. We are unique in all of time and space and, most amazingly, His Love.
PS – It’s a privilege to be writing again, and I am so grateful for the overwhelming support and encouragement and love that so many of you sent my way over the past 2 months. Christ is astonishingly beautiful in you!