God doesn’t wait to love you.
When my wife and I bought our first house, I hated it. We walked in excited and talking loudly, but as soon as we walked through the door, our voices hushed into whispers. The living room felt like a funeral parlor. The walls were dark paneling, there was no overhead light, only a lamp on the other side of the room, and the air felt dead although the central unit was running.
I hated it. My wife loved it. She wasn’t discouraged by the dark walls, the dingy carpet, the messed-up linoleum, the dark kitchen with its dark cabinets and dark countertop. She wasn’t dismayed by the three-year buildup of leaves or the fact that every room not covered in paneling had wallpaper from the 1960s or was painted a yellow reminiscent of the ceiling in an old diner where smoking was allowed. She saw the potential. I only saw the work.
We often believe God looks at us how my wife and I looked at our first house. We either believe God looks at us in disgust, believing there is no hope because our hearts are too dark or our lives too damaged, or we think God looks at us as a thing with potential. We believe we need to work out some of our bigger issues, quit that sin we have struggled with for three years or get ourselves some light in our lives by changing some behavior. According to Scripture, both views are wrong.
April 10, 2012, I held my daughter for the first time. She had caused my wife’s back to hurt and compelled me to finish many of theprojects around the house I had put off for a year. She had done all this and had nothing to offer us. She couldn’t help with any renovations. She couldn’t pay the hospital bill. She couldn’t cook dinner or clean or even throw a baseball around with her old man (yet). But the moment I held her in my arms I loved her with a love I had never experienced before. I was so overwhelmed with love and passion for this being in my arms that I openly wept. The feeling returned to me again when I held my son for the first time on October 15, 2013. That is how God sees us. Not as a project that needs behavioral modification. Not as a hopeless wreck. He sees us as sons and daughters (Galatians 3:25-26). We are his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). And He died for us while we were still sinners, with nothing good in us (Romans 5:8).
Does that mean God doesn’t acknowledge our sin or will allow us to wallow in our filth? Of course not. He will diligently, patiently and graciously sanctify us with conviction for righteousness. Does that conviction change behavior? Of course, but the behavior is a side effect of what is going on in the heart.
To hear this idea really fleshed out, let me encourage you to listen to the series “Recovering Redemption” by Matt Chandler. You can watch/listen/read/download the series by clicking HERE.