I cannot recall one time in which I questioned whether my parents loved me. I always knew that they did. That’s one of the special things about being adopted, when you have been waited for for so long the love and gratefulness are obvious.
I knew all about the prayers that had been prayed. I knew all about the story that led up to me being with them. It was a story that God had written from the beginning. I knew that I was theirs, no questions asked. Somewhere along the line though I began to feel really bad that I was the answer to their prayers, that they weren’t given someone better, something more worthy of the love that they poured out.
My parents were amazing! They gave me a wonderful life filled with love and the warm fuzzies that go along with it. The twist? I was not amazing, I missed the mark, I failed, and I felt like I was failing them. They had prayed for so long for a child and they got stuck with this kid that couldn’t be all that they deserved. They deserved the best and that was not what I had to offer.
I know now that those thoughts didn’t originate with me and I certainly wasn’t picking up on some sort of disappointment that my parents were feeling. It was an attack of the enemy and I fell for it hook line and sinker. They had named me Amanda because it meant “worthy to be loved” but I didn’t feel worthy of anything.
The thing that I failed to realize was that they loved me the moment that they held me, I didn’t do anything to earn that love. They loved me because I was theirs.
God loves us the same way. I know that in theory. I even know it in speech but deep down when I screw up I can still feel like that little girl, sitting and beating myself up because I did it again—because He deserves so much more than I can give Him.
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”
-Ephesians 1:5 NLT
I will never forget the first time that this verse spoke to my heart. I was going after Jesus but still felt like I had gotten in on a technicality. That He had said “anyone who believes” and I was technically an “anyone” but that He didn’t really want me, He just wasn’t going to say no. He meant it for the “good people”, the ones who had something to offer Him, who had plans and purposes for their lives. Not me, not the accident, the girl born out of a drunken party and a one-night stand. And then I read Ephesians and it was like that verse was written right to me. He adopted me because He wanted to, not because He was obligated to, and not just that, but it gave Him great pleasure to do so!
Just like my parents, God loved me and chose me because I was His, not because of anything that I could offer Him or bring to the table. He chose me when I was still a sinner, a screw-up. He knew all of the sins that I would commit and all of the people that I would hurt. He knew all of the times that I would run away from Him and all the ways that I would try to hide from His face. He chose me anyway and it gave Him great pleasure! I give Him great pleasure! I am not in on a technicality. He knows my name, and He rejoices over me and there is nothing I can possibly do to deserve it!
The problem is that I think I should know better. All of those sins that I committed when I was lost and wandering, were easier for me to accept His forgiveness, His mercy and grace for than the “church sins” that I commit now. The type of sins that I should know better than to do yet I still do anyway, the bad attitudes and distraction, the indifference and the frustration, the time wasted and the opportunities squandered.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
-Hebrews 4:16 NLT
The last thing that I want to do when I am faced with my shortcomings is to come boldly to God. I want to hide. I want to fix it. I want to wait until I have it figured out, until I work out my own freedom. Then I will come, then I will present myself, then I will be the prize worthy of the sacrifice. How twisted is the thinking that keeps me hidden away in my self-loathing? I will never be able to clean myself up, I couldn’t do it before grace and I surely cannot do it after. It’s not my job. But that’s the trap, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing about grace and mercy. We need it most when we have screwed up! We need it most when we don’t deserve it. That’s when we are supposed to approach the throne boldly! That blows my mind but it is what I am working on doing. He loves me! He loves me the same yesterday, today, and forever. He loves me even when I fail. He loves me even when I miss the mark. He loves me because I am His. Nothing more, nothing less. And that is enough.
So beloved, don’t let the enemy win and keep you away from the One who loves you and calls you His own. Approach Him boldly even when you don’t feel like it—especially when you don’t feel like it. How are we supposed to live for Him boldly if we can’t approach Him that way? You can’t have one without the other. He knew all about your shortcomings, even the ones you would have after He began to transform your life. He wants to bring you freedom from those too but you’re not going to find it outside of the throne room of grace. It’s high time that we enter in. It’s time that we go and see our Daddy and stop trying to become impressive to Him and just accept that we already are. We are already enough. We are enough because He says so. We are enough to merit the cost that was paid. No stipulations, no expectations, just love. Just grace. Just mercy. Go beloved, go and sit with your Daddy. Stop trying to fix it yourself and let Him change you in the process.