To Know This Love
“To Know This Love”
It has been said, that if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans. “We can make our plans (Proverbs 16:9 reminds us), but the LORD determines our steps.”
At every stage of life we make our plans, determining where we want to go and imagining what things will be like when we finally get there. But life has a way of turning out not quite as we hoped or expected.
In fact, experience teaches us, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that uncertainty it’s a part of life. Isn’t it? We all experience moments of uncertainty… Maybe about our jobs, our health, our family…
That’s not to say that because our plans didn’t pan-out that things turned out badly... because that’s not always the case. Sometimes things turn out much better than planned, or expected! Right? We call those times “blessings.”
But the uncertain nature of life always manages to remind us... that we’re not in control. And Lord knows we want to be in control! It makes us uncomfortable when we don’t have tight hold of the reins! And the older I get, the more I realize that clinching tighter and tighter to the reins doesn’t help.
Of course, there are things that we do know about tomorrow… everything is not uncertain! There are certainly plans that we can make, and should make, concerning the future. And I think we all get that, too.
But, the fact remains, that whatever tomorrow ultimately holds for you and for me, it’s a secret to us, only God knows… and many things in this life will be revealed to us at the time of God’s choosing.
And at the very same time God has made one thing perfectly clear! And regardless of our particular situation in life… regardless to all the uncertainty that tomorrow might bring… You and I can rest assured that God loves us. That’s a promise, an assurance... it’s a very present reality that will never change. The love of God in Christ is true today, tomorrow… all our tomorrow’s.
Romans 8:35-39 reminds us that nothing… absolutely nothing… can separate us from the love of God that’s in Christ Jesus our Lord!
And our scripture from Ephesians today tells us that God’s love is whole... it’s total… it’s complete! It fills us “to the measure” with the fullness of God himself!
Paul prays for the church, the followers of Christ, at Ephesus. He prays for them to “grasp how wide, and long, and high and deep” God’s love in Christ is...
God’s love for us is long! Have you ever thought about that? Of course, long is term of measurement. When we say something is long, at times, we’re referring to time itself. Some of you are wondering how long this sermon’s gonna last! Or, when we’re waiting, and waiting for our order at the Mexican restaurant, we wonder, “how much longer should we wait?”
So the very word (as it’s used in our lesson) implies the idea of time. And reminds us that God‘s love is long! The Bible assures us that God loves us with an “everlasting love.” It’s a love that began long before birth, even before our conception… (as God told Jeremiah: before I formed you in the womb, I knew you... before you were born I set you aside for my purposes). And God‘s love continues throughout the length of our lives… Even extending beyond the reach of this life... into eternity! Our God always has, and always will love us.
But our scripture lesson also tells us that the love of God is deep. Of course the word “deep” often carries a negative connotation. We’ll say, “he’s in it so deep” - or “you’re in deep trouble this time!”
So to say the love of God runs deep… is to say it reaches beyond the depths of this life... beyond the depths of our discouragement, and our despair, and even death itself! It reaches beyond the depths of our trouble.
God‘s love, mercy & grace reaches so far down, so deep, that there’s no transgression, there’s no failure, that we could ever experience, or even imagine, that could keep us separated from the loving and compassionate presence of our Creator. That’s why Christ became one of us… to show us the extent to which God himself was willing to go, to prove his love for us. His love reaches deep.
But the love of God is not only long and deep is also wide. The word “wide” holds a very particular connotation as well. Wide… Often refers to the realm of possibility… Or the extent of our experience. We often refer to people who’ve seen much of the world as what? Worldwide travelers! They’ve seen a lot And they’ve experienced a lot, because they’ve actually lived it, they’ve been there they’ve done that... they’ve seen it with their own eyes.
That’s exactly how God‘s love functions too! God‘s love in Christ is wide… It’s more experienced than our love. And God‘s love touches every single area of our existence. It covers the breath, or width, of our experiences and given the opportunity, through each of us, it reaches out to every corner of the world… Traveling along with us wherever we go and whatever we do, our faith experience in the grace of God that we share with others helps to widen God’s love.
There’s an old song that came out in the 1960's that we used to sing in the Youth Choir when I was a teenager. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going... and soon all those around can warm up in it’s glowing... that’s how it is with God’s love... once you’ve experienced it... you share his love, with everyone, you want to pass it on!”
God’s love is wide. That’s significant, because as you and I share God’s love, and we witness to God’s love in our own lives... we actually become active participants, we become co-workers, with God… Helping to share his love mercy and grace with the world that desperately needs it.
And then finally not only is the love of God in Christ long, deep, and wide but it goes further. As Paul tells us here in Ephesians... God‘s love is high… And that we can know the joy of this love that surpasses all understanding.
The love that Christ offers us enables us to celebrate joys, and victories… As it rises to the heights of our celebration and elation. Because just as God‘s love is with us in the low moments of life… The love of God rejoices with us in the good times… In all of our triumphs, and our personal victories.
God‘s love is eternal it touches the very depths of our lives extend into every corner of our reality. Including all of our times of sorrow, and our times of elation. Because God‘s love is total.
Of course, what that means for us... is that every time you and I begin to feel alone... or unloved... or underappreciated or isolated in our loneliness.... we simply need to remember that we are never beyond the reach of God’s love. And once that reality settles in... once it takes hold in our hearts and minds, it transforms us, from those who desperately need loving... into those who joyfully need to share the love of Christ, that we ourselves have received.