I’ve been binge-listening to a Podcast from WBGL called The Unfolding. It is a collection of interviews with people who have gone through excruciating circumstances, and in the midst, have experienced the unrelenting love of God. These stories inspire me and remind me how God’s miracles unfold in the messiness of our lives.
God’s answers to our prayers rarely look like what we think they should. We want to bow our heads, pray, and look up and discover our circumstances have changed. And that happens. I was miraculously healed from my drug addiction. And while that was huge, the changes He’s made in my heart over time is equally inexplicable.
Sadly, most of us are way more impressed with our problems than we are with God. And when our circumstances are not changing as fast or how we think they should, we begin to doubt Him. He’s used to that, yet He is still faithful. He still loves us fully, persistently, and passionately. I find that astonishing, and dare I say, miraculous.
One of the people interviewed on The Unfolding said something that’s stuck with me. He said God had to bring him from being a believer to being a “belonger.” A believer knows Jesus is the Son of God and trusts Him for salvation. But they don’t live loved. They haven’t come to a place where they know they are a child of God. Believers live like foster children, never knowing they are accepted unconditionally.
My new pup, Gracie, has been a reminder of this concept. She’s not too interested in learning the essentials of being a good dog, like potty training. She’s absorbed in having fun. She chews up our shoes and poops on the floor. We spend a lot of time cleaning up messes and taking electrical cords out of her mouth. Frankly, she’s a pain in the rear. But she’s microchipped, tagged, and doesn’t leave the yard without being tethered to me. Why? Because she’s mine. She belongs to me, and I love her no matter what. I’m committed to her, and I’ll fight anyone who tries to steal her, hurt her, or dare hint that she’s not smart and wonderful. That’s what love does. And love is the greatest miracle of all.
The late, great Brennan Manning used to say, “God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be because nobody is as they should be.” He also said, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ, and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” Despite his lifelong battle with alcoholism and frequent failures, Brennan Manning learned that he belonged to God.
That’s how love works. It doesn’t give up on us or fail us, even when we shake our fist at it and declare it to be unjust. God is love. And He wants you to know you are tethered to Him because you belong to Him. Quit living life like a believer and start believing you are a belonger. Just ask Gracie how much peace there is when you know you are unconditionally loved.