For so long, I believed God loved me based on my efforts to please Him. I celebrated my victories, hoping God was just as pleased by my accomplishments, and berated myself for each failure, hoping God would love me in spite of myself.
Today I am thankful for the gift of marriage. Marriage has taught me something invaluable about my relationship with God. Through my relationship with my husband, I am coming to understand the love God has for His Bride. In some ways it’s difficult to understand this kind of love – we live in a very self-center, self-focused society. Too often, two people enter into marriage excited about how they personally will benefit through the union. But, in a marriage that is focused on the giving and not the getting, there is a bond that cannot be broken.
For instance, Tim’s love for me is not based on whether I keep the house cleaned, grill steak at least twice a week, and “never have a headache”. In return, I don’t love him only if he provides X amount of dollars and rubs my feet every night. Our love comes from something deeper. It’s a love based on trust and a mutual respect for the other that comes from facing life’s experiences together. The “doing” comes naturally out of this love for one another.
Tim and I have our moments of annoyances with one another, but when we choose to serve and lift each other up, our relationship becomes closer, deeper, and stronger.
My relationship with God is the same. I have come to adore Him – to desire to serve Him out of a deep love for who He is! I recognize who He wants to be in my life, and I am honored to give Him that position.
Just as a bride takes on her husband’s name when they say their vows, we also can place our identity in Christ. That gives us freedom! We are no longer driven to impress God, for He lives in us. And the life that we now live is His!
"What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him.
Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily."
Galatians 2:19-21 MES