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the promised one :: lesson seven

It’s hard to know where to start on a lesson that begins with circumcision. Kind of an awkward subject to discuss on a blog, right?! While it was so good for me to look at this outward sign of belonging to God in the Old Testament and how similarly baptism is a sign of our spiritual circumcision of the heart in the New Testament, I think I’ll just leave it at that. This was a little new to me and definitely something I need to study a little further to deepen my understanding.

The big thing for me this week was what I learned about God and how I can be confident in His love for me.

I can so relate to Nancy’s description of how we doubt and define God’s love for us based on our circumstances:

“We’ve determined what God’s love should look like in our lives. And rather than allow him to define love, we have decided that we are the reliable judges of what true love should look like, and if God does not express love for us on those terms, we find it hard to believe he truly loves us” (p184).

Honestly, growing up I did not struggle with doubting God’s love for me. I’d heard about God’s love all my life and easily accepted it as truth. But my childhood was pretty great and my life was pretty easy. Even into my adult and married years, my life was unfolding just like I had planned. Except for the whole becoming a farmer’s wife thing but that was just a bump in the road, right?! 😉

And then Cora died.

All of a sudden my mind was filled with doubt of God’s love for me. I began to wonder if I really believed what I had always said I believed. Questions started lingering in my mind like:

If God loved me, he would have answered my prayers and healed my daughter.

If God loved me, I wouldn’t be going home to an empty house with empty arms left to decide what in the world I was going to do with my life now. Cora was my life.

If God loved me, he wouldn’t have left me to wade through grief and fight for my marriage to not fall apart when it felt like my whole life was falling apart right before my eyes.

If God loved me, he would give me another baby girl.

Tragedy hit my life and my eyes were opened to family and friends who were battling through some really hard things as well. I questioned this God who said he loves me. Is this really what love looks like? It was at this point in my life when I realized I had a very shallow and distorted view of God and his love for me. I was basing God’s character and his love for me on my circumstances and feelings. That was dangerous. If you think about how often our circumstances and feelings are changing, you can guess that this definition of God’s love that I had conjured up in my mind wasn’t working out so well for me. I felt lost and abandoned.

I am so thankful for the grace God gave me during those dark days despite my doubt and disbelief. I began to realize that I couldn’t depend on my feelings or circumstances that were changing all the time. I had to depend on the truth of God’s Word and allow God to define his love for me. I began clinging to Truth even when I wasn’t feeling it. Truth that was firm and secure. Truth that was an anchor for my soul even through the storms. And even now on those days when I’m just not “feeling” God’s love, I have to go back to Truth and what I know to be true about my God who loves me.

Looking at these chapters in Genesis and Abraham’s life I saw once again that:

I know God loves me because he’s marked me as belonging to him.

I know God loves me because he’s kept his promises to me.

I know God loves me because he sacrificed his son for me.

It is that last one that has come alive to me through this story of Abraham and Isaac. I too often take for granted what Christ did for me on the cross and detach myself from understanding the magnitude of what God did by sacrificing his son for me. His son. His only son. The son whom he loved. There is something about putting myself on that mountain and watching Isaac bind up his son and raise that knife, fully trusting in his God even though there was nothing that made sense about what he was about to do, that wrecks me. Can you even imagine? And then putting myself at the foot of the cross. Connecting what Abraham and Isaac were spared from to what God willingly gave up by sending his one and only precious Son to be scorned and beaten and nailed to a cross…to die for me, an undeserving sinner, so that I can have eternal life with him. That completely wrecks me. How can I ever doubt that he loves me?

“My friends, do you want to know how you can know that you are loved by God? It is not by looking at your circumstances. You must come to this mountain and look up at this cross. You must see that God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up” for you (Rom. 8:32). Only then can you say, ‘Now I know. Now I know that I am truly loved, because you have marked me as your own, you have kept your promises to me, you have sacrificed your only Son for me'”(p198).

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Now I know you love me.

Your turn: What was especially meaningful to you from this lesson?

  • Mary Ann - It is always so easy feel God’s love when things are good. It is when life gets challenging that the real test begins. I admire your strength even in those darkest hours and days. You have shown many of us how trusting God and living him can heal us….save us, really. Thank you for your wisdom and character, showing us with grace how to overcome a hard and most challenging test and heartache. Thanks for inspiring us to draw closer to God.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Damaska - You know, I’ve been thinking about the story and how God left no room for questioning that this was HIS plan and HIS love for Abraham. When I was reading Nancy’s teaching chapter, it occurred to me that Abraham and his family had no idea what circumcision was. They had no medical advice to go with it. For all they knew, they could’ve blown all chances of anyone in the family ever having children again. And yet, they obeyed. I find that astonishing.

    I’ve been struggling with stuff this week, so there are lots of big stars and underlines throughout the chapter– my favorite was on p. 192 “If Abraham ever wondered in the years to come whether God was truly committed to him, he need only look in the laughing eyes of his son and see that God was faithful in his promises. Abraham received the promises of God not because he and Sarah worked up enough faith on their own to believe God’s promises and hold on to them. It was grace given to them in spite of their doubt and disbelief . . . The good news of the gospel is that even though we fail in keeping our promises to God, he will keep his promises to us.” I needed those words . . . I still need those words.

    Thanks, Jess and Nancy. 🙂ReplyCancel