Day Seven: Accept God’s Surprising Love

Today, take time to open to the love that creates and surrounds you. Accept the love of One who loves because of who you are, not in spite of who you are. And, then love others in response.

We just gave our infant grandson a book entitled Who Loves Jack? In response to the question, “Who loves Jack?” the book describes how much his parents and grandparents love him…we love him more than the Rocky Mountains…more than the stars above…more than a redwood forest…and more than fireflies flashing on a summer evening.

This wee child, who must be carried from place to place and who requires constant attention, is the apple of his parents’ and grandparents’ eyes. We love him unconditionally and would give our lives to protect his, and he doesn’t need to achieve anything to be loved. We love him because of, not in spite of whom he is or what he’s done.

My students and congregants are often surprised when I ask them: “Is your God as good as you are? Does your God love as much as you do?”

Many supposedly orthodox images of God fail to pass the test of love or ethics. Some people imagine that God can do whatever God wants – if you don’t praise enough, believe the right things, fail to give God homage, or have an alternative sexual identity, God has every right to destroy you or condemn you to hell. God can send a hurricane to New Orleans or cause an earthquake in Haiti to punish peoples’ apparently sinful behavior. God loves you as long as you obey; but, step out of line and God no longer loves you. If a person did some of the things that are attributed to God, he or she would be arrested, tried, and convicted for manslaughter, if not murder.

In contrast, I believe that God’s surprising love is simply this: God loves each one of us as much as I love my little grandson. Frankly, God loves each of us more than I possibly imagine and even more than I love my grandson. As scripture says, we are inscribed on the palm of God’s hand – we are part of God’s identity forever. We matter infinitely to God because our lives shape who God is now and who God will be tomorrow.

God loves us like the mother rabbit in Margaret Wise’s children’s book The Runaway Bunny. When the little bunny says he’s running away, his mother replies, “I will run after you, for you are my little bunny.” Wherever the little bunny threatens to go, his mother says she will follow and encompass him with her love. Finally, little bunny gives up, accepting the fact that he can never escape his mother’s love. God’s love encircles us always and accepts us completely; and even when we run away, we run into God’s hands – forever. God is our companion till we find our way home. As a mystic once said, “God is the circle whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere.”

Today, simply accept the love that surrounds and guides you. You don’t have to achieve anything or hide who you are; you are simply loved and accepted fully and completely just as you are. Throughout the day, live by the following affirmations:

God loves me fully and completely.
Regardless of what I’ve thought or done, God still loves me.
In challenging situations, say to yourself: I am safe in the circle of God’s love.

In the day ahead, see everyone you meet through the eyes of love. See each person or animal companion as beloved by God. Make it your goal to help each one you encounter more fully experience God’s love.

The Adventurous Lectionary – Pentecost 14 – August 21, 2016
The Adventurous Lectionary – September 4, 2016 – Pentecost 16
The Adventurous Lectionary – Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – July 31, 2016
The Adventurous Lectionary – Pentecost 15 – August 28, 2016
About Bruce Epperly

Rev. Bruce Epperly, Ph.D., serves as Pastor at South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Centerville, MA. Prior to coming to Cape Cod in 2013, he served on the faculties and often in administrative and chaplaincy roles at Georgetown University, Claremont School of Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Bruce is currently a professor in spirituality, ministry, and theology in the doctoral program at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. He has served as pastor or interim pastor of congregations in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He is the author or co-author of over 35 books in the areas of theology, spirituality, ministerial excellence and spiritual formation, scripture, and healing and wholeness, including Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God; Finding God in Suffering: A Journey with Job; From Here to Eternity: Preparing for the Next Adventure; and A Center in the Cyclone: Clergy Self-care in the 21st Century.


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