I know it's only 4 in the morning. But I'm on break at work and I just can't help but go bonkers in my soul. In gen real we started a series called #relationshipgoals and Pastor Sarah is talking about what it means to have healthy relationships and friendships for the next three weeks. We began the series last week. So one solid month of teaching and a God-perspective from a God-loving pastor about relationships. It's monumental and foundational. So. I've been praying as one of the leaders throughout this series and before it began for God to show me too. Because if the students are gonna go through it, the leaders will first. And holy crap. I subscribed to a blog from Pastor Steven Furtick lead pastor of Elevation Church. Every morning at 3am I get an email titled Waking Faith and there is a scripture and a short devo. Because I work overnight, I'm awake when y'all aren't. I have been praying continuously overnight every Wednesday Thursday and Friday for the past 6 months. I pray during the day and I get to pray overnight. I just realized it yesterday how I have this rare opportunity to be in direct communication with the God of the universe for 8 hours straight while most of the world sleeps. And if you think that's interesting, for the last month or so, I have been asking God, in those midnight hours while y'all are asleep, that He would give me opportunities to bless others and to love them with the overflow of love that is His love for me. It all sounds well and good and cute. But I cannot give what I do not have. If I strive to love others with my own love...ick. It's not gonna be that great. God doesn't require us to give what we do not have. He can't. Sooner than later you'll get burned out and frustrated and angry. I had to learn this the hard way. I desperately tried to give what I did not have. I desperately tried to be what I had not received from Him. I desperately tried to be a good friend...without being friends with my source, Jesus. The one who sticks closer than a brother. The one who has the greatest love, the kind of love that lays down his life for his friends. I was trying to love that way. Without having received it and believed it for myself from Him. It's impossible to do. I know...I tried it. And failed miserably.
So I've been on a journey of love. Learning how to allow myself to be loved by Him because He likes to love me. And this blog from Pastor Steven has helped confirm things I was already praying and believing for. But then, I get this morning's blog post and guess what it's about? Receiving God's Love. Something I turned away from for years. Believing falsely that of course I was the exception to His love, sacrifice, Grace and mercy. But I've allowed Him access. And he has totally rights to my heart. Check out what the blog post says; "There is a principle that applies to every area of life — money, relationships, business. You can only give what you’ve first received. You can become spiritually anemic when you strive to love, give, and serve. You end up burnt out. Why? It’s because you’re operating out of order.
The first thing you have to learn about love is the source it comes from. Love comes from God because God is love. God is also just. He won’t ask you to give love you never received. You have to learn to be loved. If you don’t, you’ll act out of your frustration — which comes from a lack of received love — and you’ll end up damaging all of your relationships.
If you are going to be loved, then you’re going to have to believe the love. There’s no other way around this."
Dang. When I read it, I about fell out my chair. God's thoughts have become my thoughts. And I'm not completely crazy.
It's taken me 28 years to understand I am able to receive His love for me. Not bc I deserve it, but bc He just does. He loves me. And there was a sobering line from that post that I felt hit me like a ton of bricks. Pastor Steven said, "You have to learn to be loved. If you don’t, you’ll act out of your frustration — which comes from a lack of received love — and you’ll end up damaging all of your relationships." Dang. And seriously, it's true. I know. I've done it. So just get over the fact that you can't strong arm your way thru this.
You have to receive His love for you first before your valiant efforts to love are even worth anything. I am recalling even now many times where I said to myself, "it's ok, I don't need God's love. He can't love me, I'm too messed up, gross, unlovable. I'll just love people and it'll be fine." No! It's not fine! This revelation of his love for me has been one of the most satisfying, mercy-filled and redemptive lessons of my life. We love because he first loved us. But he won't force his love on us. We must receive it. I believe it's one of the most foundational truths that I skipped over when I entered into friendships. I learned it AFTER seeing things break and I wish I would've just surrendered to this great love sooner. But I can't change what I did. I can only allow Him to change me moving forward. And he's faithful, he who began a good work is faithful to compete it. So when I'm surrendered to Him, nothing is wasted. I'm believing that.