“The Never-Ending Love of God” by Garris Elkins

by | Feb 12, 2014 | Forgiveness, Future, Hope, Repentance, Restoration | 0 comments

Recently,
in a moment of personal brokenness the Lord spoke a word to me that changed
everything. He said,

In the place of your greatest shame and condemnation your
most significant act of spiritual     warfare
is choosing to believe I still love you.

This word
struck something deep inside of me. A new dimension of understanding and
awareness emerged.  It has since changed
how I do spiritual warfare when faced with personal shame and condemnation.

For
the last two months, after surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in my right
knee, I have gone through many changes. I was laid up for almost a month.  I entered a season of prolonged
rehabilitation.  I had to cancel a number
of ministry engagements. Everything was different – all of a sudden, different.

When
our routine of life is radically interrupted and we feel physically weakened, our
normal defenses can be compromised.  In
these times we wear thin and in our thinness we are susceptible to compromise
and choices not normally made when we appear to have it all together. We think we are strong until we become weak. It is in this
place of weakness where true strength can be discovered.

At
one point in my recuperation something took place and I felt like I had failed
God. My failed response to this particular situation became weighted down with
shame and condemnation. I began pacing back and forth on our kitchen
floor.  Actually, I was limping across
the kitchen floor with my leg still in a brace. 

As I
paced back and forth, I began to wage war against the lies of condemnation and
shame hell was trying to put upon me.  I
began rebuking demons and speaking scripture at the lies I was hearing. Then
the Lord stopped me mid-sentence.  He
said I was to war differently.  I began
to sense the power of God’s presence fill the kitchen and then I heard those life-altering
words:

In the place of your greatest shame your most significant
act of spiritual warfare is choosing
to   believe I still love you.

As I
continued to pace, I began to declare that God still loved me no matter what
had taken place. I felt layers of shame and condemnation begin to peel
away.  It was as though the lies I had
been hearing had no adhesive ability to attach themselves to me as I began to
understand the love of God in a new and deeper way.  I began to feel overwhelming joy and freedom.

Years
ago, Jerry Cook, the author of Love,
Acceptance and Forgiveness
, shared his definition of God’s love. He said,

         “Love
is seeking the highest good for another person.”

That
simple and yet profound definition is what I now use when someone asks me to
define God’s love. 

That
moment in our kitchen, as God was ministering to me, he was seeking my highest
good.  In that moment of spiritual
battle, I needed to experience the love of my Father more than anything else. This
was a battle where understanding my highest good, God’s unfailing love for me,
would be the most powerful weapon I would deploy.

When
Paul described this kind of love to the Corinthians he said, 

         It
always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
”                I Corinthians 13:7-8

In
other words, there is never a time when the love of God stops moving toward
us.  He always loves. His is a love without failure or cessation. There is
never a time in our brokenness when the love of God stops flowing at the point
of human failure.

Sometimes
we think there are spiritual cliffs of human imperfection where we fall off and
believe there is no way back.  This is a
lie.  There are no cliffs in the heart of
God.  A cliff only exists in our hearts
where fear has been allowed to define our relationship with God. 

David
and Peter had utterly failed God. Both of them had no way back from their
failure except through the ever-flowing love of God.  The love of God, not their promise to never
fail again, is what made a way back possible.

We
all know David’s story.  In a time of
year when kings went off to war, David stayed home.  David should have been with his men on the
battlefield. As a result, he made himself vulnerable and fell into sexual sin
with Bathsheba. He used his position to force himself sexually on her. He even
ordered the murder of Bathsheba’s husband by putting him in harm’s way on the
battlefield. 

It
doesn’t get much worse than David’s sin. Yet, David was still described
as,  “A
man after God’s own heart.
” In the midst of these horrible sins, God never
peeled that label off of David and he never removed from David his place in the
lineage of Christ.

In
Psalm 51:1-2 we see the heart of David when faced with his failure,  Have
mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great
compassion
blot out my transgressions.Wash
away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

David
was appealing to the unfailing love of God – an unceasing love even in the
middle of his darkest hour.

David learned the
most about the loving heart of God while navigating through personal
failure.  This seems to be where God
teaches us the most if we are willing to learn. The lesson we learn is that his
love never fails to seek our highest good. Our highest good is always the
discovery of the heart of God.

Peter was another
person who utterly failed. One night Peter denied the Lord three times. As
Peter uttered his final words of denial, Jesus looked into Peter’s eyes. Peter
was devastated. The scripture tells us Peter ran out into the night and wept
bitterly. In his sorrow, Peter fell off a cliff of personal failure and in that
moment might have thought he would never find his way back. Peter’s failure was
a weapon being formed against him to destroy his calling and destiny.

After Jesus’
resurrection, Peter and some of the disciples had returned to fishing.  One day, as they were fishing, someone calls
out to them from the seashore.  At first,
the disciples in the boat did not recognize Jesus. Then John said, “It’s the Lord.” Even though he had
utterly failed the Lord, Peter knew something about Jesus’ heart. Instead of
holding back, Peter jumped into the water, swam to the shore and was the first
to greet Jesus.

Jesus
asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love
me?”
Implied in the dialogue of the text was this – “If you love me Peter, then keep following me. Don’t let this failure be
the end. Your destiny and calling is still intact.”
 

Jesus
wanted Peter to make a choice.  Would Peter
be willing to follow him once again?  The
future Jesus had planned was still intact and needed an act of faith from Peter
in order for it to be reengaged. Peter had responded to Jesus’ heart and now he
was being invited into full restoration. In the most catastrophic event of
Peter’s life, he would now see the full extent of God’s love.

Isaiah
wrote, “No weapon formed against you will
prosper and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of God, and their righteousness is from
Me, says the Lord.”
(Isaiah 54:17)

We
quote the first part of that verse frequently and yet fail to read the
remainder of the verse.  What we miss is
the part that says God will condemn the voices of darkness that rise up to
condemn us. 

If
God condemns what is condemning us, shouldn’t we do the same? His love is
always flowing towards us and can never be diverted by the dam of personal shame
and condemnation. God is inviting his people to rise up and join with him to
condemn each voice of hell that tries to rob us of our highest good. That will
be our most significant act of spiritual warfare.

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