Month: September 2020

125 – Are You Living in Love?

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Are You Living in Love Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungWe know God loves us. We read about it in Scripture and even memorize Bible verses saying He loves us. We sing songs about His love for us, and we have all kinds of mugs and art and shirts proclaiming God’s love for us. So why aren’t our lives overflowing with peace and confidence? Join us to find out!

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

An Amazing Secret

On our last podcast we talked about insecurity and validation, and the dangers of seeking validation. Do go back and listen to that if you haven’t. It’s episode 124

We wanted to follow that up with one of the most important things a writer needs to know. It’s the secret to helping you overcome painful negative experiences and emotions, and the secret to serving others well in your writing. I believe if every Christian in the world were fully convinced of the truth of this one important fact, they would live with infinitely more power, purpose, and freedom, and that would carry over into their writing life.

What is this fact? It’s something we all say we believe—and sometimes we even do believe it…kind of. But we don’t believe it to the extent that we could…or should.

Wondering what that is?

You can find the secret—because it’s not really a secret—in Ephesians 3:17-19. It’s in a prayer the apostle Paul prays for believers:

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (NIV & NRSV)

This prayer has an important component: a “so that.” It’s an expected result, an effect. Paul wants believers to know the breadth and depth of God’s love for them, to fully take it in and understand it, so that something else will happen: so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.

What does that mean? How does being filled with all the fullness of God affect us as writers? That’s what we’re going to talk about.

To start, let’s cover some important aspects of God’s love for us.

God’s Love for Us

1. God’s Love Is Not Based on Us.

It’s not based on what we do or don’t do. It’s not based on our goodness, or on our worthiness. God gives us our value and our worth because he loves us. It all starts with God. With who he is. With what kind of character he has.

1 John 4:8 tells us that God IS love. That’s part of the definition of his character. It’s more than something he chooses to do, it’s something he by definition IS.

A friend once tried to tell me that God couldn’t possibly love her because she was too damaged, too unlovable. The problem was that she was telling God he isn’t who he says he is. We don’t get that luxury. We can’t define God however we want. If he says he’s love, then he is. Nothing we choose to believe will change that.

2. God’s Love Is Unfailing and Unending.

God’s love endures forever. There are numerous places in the Bible that state this, but one of clearest is Psalm 136. It talks about all the things God has done for Israel, and every verse has the refrain: His steadfast love endures forever. This goes on for 26 verses, and it’s like God is saying, “Do you understand? Do you see it?”

It’s so easy to look at circumstances and feel like God has failed us, or that he doesn’t care. But that’s us redefining God’s character, and we aren’t allowed to do that. 

3. Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love.

Paul tells us in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

4. God Knows Us Fully and Still Loves Us

God fully, completely, totally, thoroughly knows you. He knows every single detailed thought, action, idea, hope, dream, failure, sin, anger, hate, folly, evil, that you’ve done, or thought about, or wanted to do. He knows who you are deep down, and he STILL loves you. In other words, you are fully known and yet still fully loved.

Psalm 139:1-4, 13, 16 says,  “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely…For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

We live in a curated world, where you can project whatever image you want to on social media, or when you’re in public, and most of the world will never know the difference. But God does. We can’t curate ourselves in God’s eyes. He sees it all, and he still loves us.

How does knowing, and fully believing God’s love for us is real, is not dependent on us, is unshakable, never ending, has nothing that can ever separate us from it, and that it’s a kind of love that fully knows and still fully loves us…how does that help us as writers?

The Power of Fully Believing in God’s Love for Us

1. When we are truly secure in God’s love for us, we’re secure in our value and identity.

When we truly believe in God’s love for us, have nothing to prove, and nothing to lose. That frees us to be the writers God made us to be without fear.

For example, deep down, would it matter if people rejected me because I wrote God’s truth about something they didn’t want to hear? It may hurt, I won’t deny that. Rejection hurts. But God’s love is more satisfying than man’s love. That’s how he created us. To be fully satisfied in him. So at the end of the day, I can trust God to heal my emotions and dwell on the joy his love for me brings.

Or what about sales? Would it really matter if my book didn’t sell a bunch of copies? No, because God loves me no matter how many copies get sold. He gives us value no matter what. 

Or what about disappointments that are inevitable on our writing journey? It’s never going to be a straight line from point A to point B, and it’s never going to be easy.

Whatever comes our way, there is a security in knowing that nothing can separate you from God’s love. No cancelled contract, no troll reviewer, no terrible edit, no crushing response from an agent or editor or critique group, no sickness, no calamity. He has not forgotten you, and not abandoned you because he loves you. His love is always, always, always rock solid. And because he loves us, he uses these trials for our good and his glory.

We’re not saying this is easy, but we are saying this is what God wants for us. He doesn’t want us dwelling on what man can do to us but on how God is always FOR us. Psalm 118:6 says, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

2. Our security from God’s love for us helps us be authentic not just in our writing but in our lives.

As humans, there always seems to be a part of us that wants to protect ourselves, to curate what the world sees. But our security in God’s love helps us learn (over time, this is not immediate) to live more authentically, which gives others the freedom to do the same as they see our authenticity. That can also help eliminate imposter syndrome. We see through the lies of it because we’re always doing our best to project our authentic selves. We don’t have to fear some kind of unmasking.

3. When we’re truly secure in God’s love for us, we can love others freely.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” Here’s the deal: We actually can’t manufacture the kind of love God wants us to have for others. We’re not capable. Compared to God’s love, human love is pathetic and weak. But what we can do is be a conduit of God’s love. We can let God’s love in us supernaturally overflow to others. But that starts with our awareness of the love God has for us. And the more we’re aware and fully embrace it, the more it simply overflows in us, because it’s God’s love, not ours. It’s Christ in us loving others.

4. When we’re secure in God’s love for us, we can serve others with our whole heart, without expecting anything in return.

Because God loves us, he’s going to satisfy us with joy in himself that comes from his Holy Spirit. He refills us. He rewards us. Most people are never going to see the blood, sweat, and tears you put into your writing, but your heavenly Father does. Matthew 6 tells us how God sees what we do and rewards us. We lay up treasures in heaven that can never be taken away. 

Verses to meditate on

We talked about just some of what it means to be filled to the fullness of God. He overflows in us, and we’re more and more conformed to the image of God. But again, it starts with our deep, unwavering belief in God’s love for us. 

Take some time to soak in Scripture, to soak in God’s love letters to us, his beloved children.

Consider 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and for right now, don’t think of this as how we should love others, but how God perfectly loves you. We’ve altered the words a bit to help you get the idea:

“(God’s love for you) is patient, (his) love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor (you), it is not self-seeking, (God’s love for you) is not easily angered, it keeps no record of (your) wrongs. (His) love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (His love for you is always protective, always trusting, always hopeful, always persevering. God’s love for you) never fails.”

Here are some other verses to let sink deep into your heart: 

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.” Exodus 15:13

“Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” Psalm 125:9

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100

“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9

“…We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:2-5

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:3-6

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV)

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV)

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:8-10

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

Final Words

God loves you with an amazing love because he is love. If you can embrace that, accept it and live in that, imagine the glory that will take place in your life. Imagine the example you will be to others and the wonderful brilliance that will shine through you!

We know God loves us. But do we live like we believe it? #amwriting @karenball1 Click To Tweet
We want to hear from you!

What helps you know…truly know…that God loves you?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our September sponsor of the month, Wendy L. MacDonald. Not only is Wendy a writer, she also produces a weekly, short, inspirational podcast called Walking with Hope for HopeStreamRadio.com. Check it out!

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous sound editing!

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