It was only last Tuesday that I posted last. Much has happened since then. I finished my latest book. My wife is reading it, at the moment, and hates it. Which, and this may surprise you, was sort of an expected outcome. I didn’t write a book with any heroes this time.
Last night was our weekly Men’s Theology at Immanuel. It was, as always rich and meaty. My pastor, MY PASTOR, Ray Ortlund stood up and helped the men in the room see the real Jesus through the lens of scripture and the real scripture through the lens of the real Jesus. He deftly illustrated the Law v. Grace debate in a way that was almost poetic. But what struck me wasn’t just that, but something altogether more nuanced.
He was talking about God’s love for us and he quoted a Dutch theologian to get the point across.
“The best proof that [God]He will never cease to love us lies in that He never began.” -Geerhardus Vos
Now let me set the scene for you. Ray Ortlund, who pretty much nobody in the room would stand toe to toe with, scripturally (and who by no means anyone would question the almost scandalous love of Jesus coming from), all just heard what on its face sounded as though God doesn’t love us.
But do you see that that’s not at all what that quote says? At. All.
I dropped it on my wife afterwards and it had the same effect. And here’s the wonder: we see that quote initially as negative towards us because our hearts can’t immediately seize on the joyful reality of what that quote means. We can’t look at that quote fresh for the first time and immediately think, “The love of God is one with God and has always been, and will always be.” That tells me something about the fallen nature of my heart. That my first instinct is to say, “God doesn’t love me?” tells me I am a complete mess.
God does love me. He always has. He always will. The infinitude of the love of God contains love for me. ME. The worst sinner I know, the guy I see every morning in the mirror, has always been loved by God. God didn’t decide, after much debate, whether or not to redeem my life from the pit. No. He always loved me.
When Ray dropped the quote on us like he were casually pulling the pin on a hand grenade, something happened. It struck me and I laughed. A real laugh. Anyone who has ever known Ray knows he has this laugh, this sort of pure, almost childlike laugh that is so free of cynicism and mockery and derision and so full of the real joy of the Lord. You hear it sometimes on the podcast. But you can’t see the way his face lights up with it. And last night, maybe for the first time in my whole life, I felt that laugh inside of me. I laughed because I realized the truth in a place it had never broken into, before, with me.
And then I saw it sort of spread around the room as other men saw the truth of the love of God in a fresh way. And we smiled at one another. And it was like dawn over the mountains. It was like cool rain in the desert.
I have always been loved by God. I always will be.