A few days ago I was meeting with a friend. After sharing some of the discouragement and difficulty I’ve experienced with being a new father, he looked at me and asked, “Have you considered the steadfast love the Lord today?”
What a strange question, I thought.
First, I’m not used to hearing the phrase “steadfast love” outside of the Bible, so the concept struck me as totally foreign there in the middle of Starbucks. And second, it seemed like such an obvious question that begged an obvious and resounding “Yes!” I mean, I’ve been a gospel-centered, grace-loving, Jesus-following believer and worship leader for over a decade now — surely I’ve preached the gospel to myself today and remembered that I’m loved by God in his unending faithfulness.
Nevertheless, I sat there uncomfortable, weighing each word he chose to use, and then I told him, “Brother, I don’t think that I have.”
Upon further reflection, it is “easy” to think about the love of God. I have been catechized well enough to rattle off at least ten verses about the love of God, and I’ve read enough gospel-centered books that I can think back upon Jesus suffering and dying for me on the cross as the ultimate evidence of God’s love. But, the thing is, I often think of God’s love for me only in abstract ways. My friend’s question (which is a biblical question) pushed me out of the abstract ruts my mind is usually stuck in, and into the real world — the real world where God’s love invades with my circumstances, and my remaining sin and unbelief.
In considering the steadfast love of the Lord, I had to start by dropping the cloak that hides my disobedience and selfishness. This is why my friend’s question initially made me so uncomfortable — I knew that, to answer him honestly, I had to go to those awful places in my heart where sin festered and stunk, and in the same way I avoid walking past the local garbage dump, I tend to avoid these areas of my heart. The more I prayerfully explored the depths of my disobedience, the more dark, horrifying, and saddening it discovered it to be. I was genuinely surprised by how dark it turned out, and I felt ashamed.
My eyes welled up and the only thing I could say was “Jesus, help me.” That was my prayer, that the Lord would forgive me and that he would rescue me from this auto-pilot superficiality in which I found myself.
But then I remembered, my friend’s question wasn’t “Have you considered the blackness of your heart today?”
He asked me if I have considered the steadfast love of the Lord.
That’s when I was reminded, Jesus shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome Him (John 1:5). In having a renewed realization of how deep down the roots of my sin run, I was overcome by the remembrance that Jesus’s grace towards me runs even deeper. My sin is worse than I had first imagined and Jesus’s saving power is far greater than I had ever hoped. He has not given up on me. He loves me with steadfast love. He has never flown of the handle in a quick rage with me. He is slow to anger. He has not turned me over to my sin for ultimate destruction. He is gracious and compassionate to his people, always.
Have you considered the steadfast love of the Lord today?