Three Ways to Cultivate Confidence in God’s Care and Love For You
One of the fun parts of ministry is interacting with young people as they begin to flirt, then date, and possibly go on to get married. It’s awkward, it’s cute, sometimes it’s terrible, and oftentimes it’s beautiful. Over the last several years I’ve been able to meet with several parents about these dating relationships. They are so anxious about what might happen to their “babies.”
The number one thing that comes out when meeting with parents is that they want whoever is dating their son or daughter to know Jesus. Why? Because if this person loves Jesus, they’re going to love and care for their son or daughter. This burden parents have over their kids’ dating is a beautiful thing. Even though the execution can be flawed by terrible anxiety, the burden is true.
Honestly, it’s what we all want. We want someone to take care of us and to love us forever. Whether we are married or not, our souls need the security of long-term love. Many of us know that God will take care of us and love us forever but experientially we find it hard to be true.
So, how do you cultivate this? How do you take your skepticism to the Lord and foster deep nearness with him that leads to trust?
1. Trust People
I know the idea to trust people seems impossible for some of you. Many of you have a story where trusting people has hurt you. I get that. At the same time, God has called us to be in relationship with others. Our experiential love of God is made even more real through people.
Yes, we experience God’s care and love for us individually; however, God has designed us to also experience his love through others. But, we cannot experience this kind of love if you don’t trust people. I am not saying that you have to trust everyone. I am also not saying that you trust people immediately with your social security number. Simply, by faith, trust someone. Trust someone with a struggle or something you are going through. Let someone into that wall that you’ve built because of your story. And don’t wait till you are confident in trusting someone to trust them. If you do that, you won’t have any relationships. As one pastor said, “The only way you know you can trust someone is if you trust them.”
2. Do Something Scary
You might say, “Zach you just asked me to trust someone! That’s terrifying!” I hear you. That’s a great start!
One of our problems, however, is that we might not experience God’s sovereign care for us because we often don’t need it. We might live life in such a way that doesn’t require God to “intervene.” So, maybe to experience a deep sense of the Lord’s care in your life you need to do something scary. I am not saying that you need to go on a dangerous mission trip. Because for some of us, that’s not that scary. For some of us, that means giving generously by faith knowing that God will supply all my needs. For some of us, that may mean having a conversation with that person you’ve been harboring bitterness toward.
Can I encourage you that God’s presence is most near to us when we feel the most need for him? That’s why Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they will see God” (Matt. 5:3). If you do something scary, you will feel God’s sovereign care in your life – no matter what the outcome is.
3. Give Yourself Grace
I’m convinced that one of the reasons we have a hard time believing that God will love us forever is because we have a hard time giving ourselves grace. You might struggle to believe God loves you because you get too self-focused. We need to stop focusing inward and look upward. How does God view you? If you are in Christ, you are beloved and spotless. You are forgiven. You are free!
In your struggles with parenting, relationships, work, and other life circumstances, can I just say, “It’s okay. You are loved. It’s going to be alright. Give yourself grace.”
The beauty of the gospel story is that we are not a bride with a father who has withheld a bridegroom to take care of us. He provided one. Jesus was given to us so that we know we will be taken care of. With his broken body and his blood, he met us at the alter vowing with his life to take care of us and love us forever. That’s the story of gospel. That’s your story.
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In a world full of self-love and apathy, we don’t need less self-clarity, we need more. If you read this and see no need for self-clarity or self-awareness, then I might encourage you that you are the very person who needs this. I’d urge you to be curious about how you are being experienced by others, to find honest people to tell you how you are doing in loving others, and find tools that might help you on that journey.
It’s alarming how easy it is to forget what we were saved from and that it was not because of our own effort, but only by the grace of God. So subtly can we start to believe that our spiritual maturity simply happened or that we’ve gotten to where we are merely by our effort.
I believe there is an underlying narrative surrounding the value of women that threatens the influencing and flourishing of women in the local church. Beginning to grasp that reality was a painful and confusing process for me. Sometimes this narrative shows up in the most heartbreaking of ways in the local church—like in stories of the devaluing and abuse of women in the church. Sometimes the narrative is less extremely represented through the absence of women in ministry. And sometimes, like in my case, I didn’t think this narrative applied to me at all because of the good ministry situation I was in.
Growing up in the church, I thought of my pastors as Supermen. I saw them as having an unachievable level of skill and godliness. I remember the folks in our church context thought the pastor was perfect. He didn’t take days off. He visited the sick at the hospital every day, and he never seemed to sin, at least not publicly. So, when I felt the call to ministry, I was overwhelmed by this bar of perfection. I knew myself, and I knew my sin. I thought, “I can never be like that!” or at least, “The people I serve in ministry can never know I sin so much.”