There is a strong temptation for us to believe that while it’s love that rescues us from the illusion of separation, it’s our rule keeping, church attendance, or personal devotion that maintains our salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are completely and totally loved. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less.
You are at home in the embrace of God. It’s where you belong. God keeps us in Divine love. No matter how far we roam we can never go so far as to escape God’s love. God’s love keeps us. There is no performance required on part. Just be who you really are. That’s enough. Live in love and love will move you.
Love Never Leaves
During my pastoral ministry years, I had the distinct honor of being in the room when several people have taken their final breaths. Sometimes it’s easy to sense the presence of God. The last person I watched die was an elderly pastor’s wife. She died surrounded by her children and grandchildren as they sang hymns and prayed over her thanking God for her life. I wish you could have been in that room when she passed. It felt as if Jesus Himself came to personally lead her into eternity.
Other times it’s not that easy. The first person that I ever watched die was actually on the side of the road. He was drunk and speeding. He slammed headfirst into the car immediately behind me and died in the road before the paramedics could arrive. I remember being surprised at the peace of God that wrapped itself around us in the crisp night air as he passed.
Love Makes a Way
There was one passing that was more complicated. The gentleman was a big, burly man who had lived life very much on his own terms. He saw little value in faith. He was in cardiac arrest when he arrived in the E/R. Not long after, he flat-lined. The medical team resuscitated him. He had another heart attack. Again, they brought him back. Finally, the doctors said-his heart couldn’t sustain rhythm much longer and the family gave the order that no more heroic efforts to made to save him.
After the second heart attack, the patient was terrified. He told us that menacing creatures were coming for him. He didn’t want to go with them. His family knew his time was short and they poured their hearts out to him. They told him of their great love for him and, in turn, he told his son that he loved him for the first time his adult son could remember. The love of his family healed him. He met death that day with grace and peace. I could see the joy and astonishment of heaven light up his face as he took his final breath. This was a man who had spent his life avoiding the unnecessary sentimentalities of life who in the end was overwhelmed by love’s presence.
Life is an Exercise
Life is an exercise in letting love in. It’s a beautiful mess of trial and error, risk, and success and failure all inviting us to trust that we are completely and totally loved. Once we receive that awareness, our fears and insecurities are disarmed and we can take the greatest risk of all-letting ourselves be known. We risk letting our love be known and speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Rather than looking for the worst in everyone, we search for the best in those around us. When we’re comfortable with who we are we can love people where they are.
This is the abundant life that Jesus told us about-a life that is so rooted in our own beloved-ness that we can spend our life caring for the needs of others without a need to prove ourselves or hold grudges. We can walk in peace and constant grace because we know that we are loved.
And that is the kind of love that will change the world.
Struggling to let go of the doctrine of eternal conscious torment in Hell? My friend, Keith Giles, joined me on The Messy Spirituality Podcast to discuss “A Love Stronger Than Hell”. You can listen to that episode here.