Some of us who have the luxury of not risking our lives working overtime as frontline workers have been confronted with a ghastly shock: our newly freed-up schedules are not being filled with more devotions, bible studies, prayer or fasting. More time has not equated to more time with God.
There are some run-of-the-mill reasons that can be mindlessly thrown about as explanations, such as laziness or back-sliding in our faith. Perhaps, for some of us, these are accurate diagnoses. But for the remainder of this article, I invite you to consider another root cause in case it resonates with you.
A lot of us can recite John chapter 3, verse 16 by heart (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”), and use this verse and others as a basis of our confidence in God’s love for us. But we still limit a definition of God’s love for us by what He does and not by what He feels.
Picture this: if you had a friend, a family member or a romantic partner that literally lit up with a smile at the mention of your name, would you want to spend time with him/her? Would you need to drag yourself to sit in a room with someone who is utterly thrilled by your mere existence? Chances are, even if he/she were in a position to give you instructions, or to reprimand you if you did something wrong, you would still look forward to his/her company because of how wonderful it feels to be cherished.
God feels that way about us, and infinitely more intensely than any human being in our lives ever could. Sadly, most of us do not believe that. Even though we genuinely believe that God has and continues to be merciful and generous towards us, we subconsciously cloak those actions in stoicism and a sense of duty. Apathy is a two-way street: what we believe about how God feels about us significantly impacts how we feel about Him. Our excitement about being in His presence is clearly demonstrated in the time we spend communing with Him.
Truth about God’s love
God is not stoic. Scripture is replete with stories, parables and teachings that support and paint illustrious pictures of His passion and tenderness. Isaiah chapter 30, verse 18 says, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you.” Being gracious to you is not merely a task on God’s to-do list; He eagerly yearns for and looks out for the opportunity to do so.
Zephaniah chapter 3, verse 17 (“He will take great delight in you”) illuminates God’s heart behind what He’s willing to do or sacrifice for your sake. Taking delight in someone is far beyond being willing to tolerate pain and sacrifice for their sake. God enjoys you: thinking about you, talking with you, hearing your secrets. God doesn’t just love you; He also likes you!
If it’s all there in black and white, why do so many of us miss it even after years of Sunday schools, sermons and Bible studies? Because we still struggle to walk by faith instead of by sight. It is challenging to believe it when we have never seen or experienced a shadow of it from people around us. We see God through the lens of authority figures in our lives, like our parents. We call God our Heavenly Father, so it is unsurprising that we will appropriate to God trends and characteristics that we see in our earthly fathers.
Unfortunately, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans chapter 3, verse 23), including our parents, pastors, bosses and political leaders. They may love us, but they don’t love us unconditionally. They project their idols into our relationships with us and measure our worth by things other than being made in God’s image. We, in turn, absorb the subliminal messages these actions say about how valued we are by them, and assume that God values us in the same way.
The missing piece of the puzzle
We do know some truths about God, such as the truth about His wrath, His power, His holiness, His wisdom. But we don’t know the truth about His compassion, His tenderness and how much He values us – that’s the missing piece of the puzzle.
John chapter 8, verse 32 says “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It’s not about knowing the truth, it’s about knowing the whole truth. Without knowing the whole truth, we won’t be set free from the lies about God’s character and heart towards us that fuel our desire to spend time with him.
Root not fruit
The lies embedded in our hearts are demonic strongholds, each one an argument and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 5). If we want to spend our newly freed up schedule effectively building our relationship with God, we need to attack the problem from the root, not the fruit.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (John chapter 16, verse 13) and reveal the lies we have believed about God’s heart towards us, His tenderness and compassion, and the immeasurable value He places on us. As we repent of each lie, and tear down each stronghold, I am confident we’ll see the difference in the time we spend with God each day.
Kacy Garvey is a Christian poet, speaker and activist. In 2011, she launched "Rahab", an outreach to prostitutes in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a USAID certified HIV Testing and Counselling Provider and has also successfully completed training in Trafficking in Persons conducted by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM). She performs original pieces of spoken word poetry to various audiences, and in 2014 and 2018, she launched “Undone” and “Water Jar”, the first and only Christian poetry albums published in Jamaica thus far. As a founding member of the Love March Movement (since 2012) and #MarriageMattersJA (since 2018), she is a regular presenter on the science, politics and biblical worldviews on sex and sexuality. She hosts the new TV series “MTM News Magazine” which can be streamed live on www.mercyandtruth.tv.