Paul Harvey once told the story of a man who saved for a longtime to buy his dream car. Two days after driving it off the showroom floor, his wife was driving it and got into a fender-bender. She knew her husband would be devastated, and she surveyed the damage in tears.
When asked to get her automobile registration from the glovebox, a note tumbled out in her husband’s handwriting. She picked it up and read: “In case of an accident, remember, Honey, it’s you I love, not the car.”[i]
In a sense, the husband was saying, “Nothing can separate you from my love.” What a great visual of his love.
It’s something Paul says about Christ in Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”
It’s hard to remember love in a time of crisis or failure. In a time of trouble, love is not usually the first emotion we feel. We may feel sadness, shame, fear, or disappointment in moments of defeat. But love is reserved for moments of triumph, goodwill or romance.
As we begin the year 2020, we know there will be times of suffering and disappointment at some point in the year. We are never sure what a year holds for us. But the pressure of a crisis puts me at risk of relapse.
Gerald May says we do not have the power to make the right response when things get bad. He says we must be willing to enter the spaciousness of God’s love and choose Him. Only in total freedom can we ever choose to love fully like the man in Paul Harvey’s story.
I often make the mistake of being extrinsically driven. I need you to love and accept me. I need your approval, so I am motivated by my own fear of not feeling loved by others.
If the truth will set me free, then the truth is this: Nothing can separate me from the love of God. When I finally accept this truth, then I trust God will do for me what I cannot do for myself. He must become everything to me, then I can reach out to others in the gift of love.
At the center of sin is “I,” and ego is always the issue. I am selfish and self-centered. It is my greatest bondage and the most lonely and desperate place to live. The pattern of giving to get IS NOT LOVE, it is dependency. How much of my service to God comes from an abundance of love? Do I want to bless Him and give back or am I loving from a place of if I serve then God and others will love me and approve of me? This is not living from a place of grace, where intrinsically we are motivated by God’s love. For his love is unconditional and I do not have to earn it.
Living from a place of shame, disappointment, sadness, anger, or fear keeps us addicted and bound to our attractions. We give-up or self-medicate to not feel these emotions.
But God wants us to come home to him. I always knew when I went home, my family would be there to love me no matter what. There may be disappointment, but nothing was stronger than their love.
The best learning opportunities are often when we make mistakes and bad choices because we get to feel God’s love wooing us back to a place of peace. So, in case of a mistake or failure this year, remember, nothing can separate you from the love of God. Nothing.
[i] Paul Harvey, For What It’s Worth, (New York: Bantam Books, 1992), 31.