A few years back I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend (oh how I long for the days of sitting in a coffee shop with friends) and we were talking about our ability to receive love. I confessed to her that for many years it was hard for me to receive love from others and especially from God. I mean how could God love me when I kept making mistakes or breaking my promises to really change for the better this time?
But that’s the great thing, God’s love is not conditional, rather it’s unconditional. It’s not based on our successes or our failures or if I have earned it, rather His love is always there for us, we just have to receive it. Do you ever find it hard to let God love you?
As we sat in that coffee shop that day, I was reminded of John 13 where Jesus was bending down to begin to wash the feet of his disciples. If you are familiar with the story, you may recall that when Jesus gets to Peter, Peter refuses to let Jesus wash his feet. Peter is rejecting Jesus’ act of love. How many times have you rejected receiving Jesus’ love because like Peter you feel it would be selfish, or that you were not worthy to receive such a lavish gesture?
If you look at verse 8, though, Jesus responds by telling Peter that “unless I wash you, you have not part with me” (NIV). Then in verse 14 Jesus goes on to say “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet” (NIV). This isn’t just a one-way gesture. Jesus isn’t just instructing the disciples to give, but also to receive as He just showed them how to do.
The nature of God’s love is generative and relational. God’s love towards us creates new love for us to give back. We have the opportunity to multiply love when we receive it, but when we refuse to receive love, we diminish its possibilities. When we do put into practice the act of both giving and receiving love, Jesus reminds us in verse 17 that that’s when we “will experience a life of happiness enriched with untold blessings.” (TPT)
So how do we receive God’s love? There is an exercise I practice and recommend to others. The truth of God’s love for you is woven throughout His Word and so I encourage you to go on a love scavenger hunt and find the verses of God’s love that speak directly to you. Once you find 5-10 of these verses, read through each statement as you picture God speaking these words over you. In each statement, place your name in the verse. For example, if I were reading Zephaniah 3:17 I would speak out loud “Dawn, for the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (NLT).
You might find it helpful to write each of the verses you find down on index cards or post-it notes so that you can easily flip your way through them as you go through this practice. Repeat this exercise daily for several weeks and soon you will find that these seeds of love begin to take root in your heart.
Here are a few other verses to get you started:
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)
“This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5, NIV)
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Remember God loves you just as you are. God’s love is the purest form of love. So pull down the barriers that have prevented you from experiencing His love and allow Him to show you how much He loves you. And as He shows you, receive it. Allow His love to come into your heart, for my dear sister, you are His beloved.