My first marriage was rough. Not to bash my ex-husband, but he had specific mental diagnoses that made him miserable. This caused him to concoct crazy ideas about my intentions. He would then come up with defensive plays to thwart my imaginary “evil plan”. The result was that I had a husband who mistrusted everything I did and was completely unable to receive the love I had for him.
In the last 3 years of our 13-year marriage, I really came to see how this my marriage was an outstanding example of God’s relationship with so many of us humans. He loves us completely and only wants the very best for us. Yet due to our brokenness, we are often overwhelmed with the burden of our own shame (justified and unjustified) and are unable to receive His love for us.
My marriage was exhausting. No matter how hard I tried to express my love for him, he was suspicious. Every kind gesture was brutally criticized in order to devalue it. Nothing I did was worthy of praise, and I never did enough to satisfy his appetite. I know other people like this. No matter how God blesses them, they can always find the down side. They will tell me how they wished it had been better. They can never seem to fully enjoy the blessings God gives them. They are often reluctant to admit it, but they are chronically dissatisfied with life in general.
The result of this attitude in my (now ex-) husband was that I stopped wanting to do nice things for him. Why bother? He’donly twist it around and punish me for it. I never felt safe in the relationship. I knew from experience that he was waiting for an opportunity to “get even” with me for something I never did. I quit trying, and spent my energy protecting myself from him. Eventually, my discovery of his affairs gave me the moral foundation I needed to divorce him.
The Bible is clear that God gets tired of this attitude in His people, too. The whole book of Exodus shows the story of a magnificent God who proves over and over again His passionate love and fierce protection of His people in miraculous ways. Yet days after His deliverance, they come whining to Him that they are tired of the way He has provided for them. Over and over again they actually beg for Moses to take them back to Egypt, because they claim the predictable abuse of slavery was better for them than freedom with God.
This past October, after nearly 9 years of singleness, I remarried. My husband, Jim, is nothing like my ex-husband. He truly understands what love is and what love does. He continually pours his love out for me and is incredibly grateful whenever I do even the smallest thing for him. He loves me in my imperfection and never thinks the worst of me when I make a mistake. With Jim, I feel really safe in the relationship because I know that I know that I know that he has only the best intentions for me. I know that he would throw himself in front of a moving train before he would do anything that would cause me pain or harm. With Jim, I have what the Bible calls REST.
Do you have rest in your relationship with God? Do you believe—I mean REALLY BELIEVE—that He is there to protect you and to provide for you in all situations? It’s easy to say that you do. I mean I’ve done that in the past, too. “Sure, yeah Lord. I trust You. Blah, blah, blah. But hey, I can’t waste any more time praying because I’ve got a disaster looming and I NEED TO GO TAKE CARE OF IT.” As long as I feel that I need to control situations in my life, I’m not really trusting God and I’m not really entering His rest. I am cheating myself. I am depriving myself of a closer walk with God and the peace which results.
Do you—deep down inside—fear that God doesn’t really have your best interest at heart? If so, why do you think that? If not, why do you behave as though you do?
When we are in a loving relationship with God, we trust Him to be our protector and provider. We do the things that will please Him, just as we would for our spouse. We don’t do these things to manipulate or control, but out of the sheer pleasure of expressing love to our beloved. We trust Him, because we know His love for us is perfect. Unlike a friend or spouse, He will never ever let us down. He will never “get it wrong.” It may take us a while to see the blessing, and He may lead us through some experiences which are unbelievably difficult. But when we truly believe that He loves us with an inexhaustible and perfect love, we will find true, deep, and satisfying peace.
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