I don’t really know where I’m going with this post. I might not even post it. But I need to collect my thoughts. So here goes.
I think I put my hope in the wrong things. A lot. I mean, let’s be honest; it’s not that hard. For example, I put my hope in my finances all the time. And why not? It’s going to be a physical sustainer for the entirety of this life; it’s natural to put my hope in my income. And I’m sure that the more you have, the easier that is. Another example of poor hope placement, one that, whether you’ll admit it or not, all of you can relate to: relationships. I’m talking all kinds. Some of you (and at points in my life I’ve been in this spot) are convinced that having more friends will make you a happier person. Truth be told, I’m much happier than I was a year ago, and I actually have fewer close friends (but I’m closer than ever to those I kept). And what of dating relationships? And marriage? I’ll be the first to admit to putting my eggs in that basket. Who doesn’t want to feel loved?
Love. That’s an interesting topic. Why do we crave love? I mean, crave it? We all do. Even the people who never talk to anyone outside of their families crave love; they just feel that their family’s love is sufficient. Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have those who seek love from anyone and everyone. Some look for it in dating relationships, some look for it in having as many friends as possible, some look for it in physical regards… you name it. And you’ve probably been there. Actually, I promise you have. Haven’t we all? But you know what sucks? You know what really, really sucks? We all still feel empty. Completely empty. Don’t you feel it? I mean, as soon as one of those relationships that you’ve banked on so much collapses, suddenly your world falls apart. And you’re alone. All over again. Back at square one, right? You’ve been there. I’ve been there. I get it. And it hurts. It hurts a lot. You thought you had it together. You were happy. Things were going well. So well. And now it’s going up in flames, and it’s too late to save it.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Surely we don’t enjoy the pain. So it must be a result of the hope we have that that person or persons will make us happy. But it doesn’t take much time in this world to figure out that everyone is going to let you down at some point. Everyone. And it sucks. But we still do it. We still try over and over to find love in every category possible. It’s like we’re wired to or something.
Oh wait, we are. We’re built to love. Well that’s kind of cruel, isn’t it? What kind of God would embed something into us that is so horribly painful half the time? Why are we in endless pursuit of something that never fills us up as well as we hope for it to? Unless… unless there’s some kind of ultimate love. Like, we’ve just been loving the wrong person or something. But, if that was the case, then there would have to be someone who could never, ever let us down. Which is impossible. Right? I mean, everyone I know has screwed me over at one point or another, whether they meant to or not (most fall into the second category). But if we’re built to love, then we probably aren’t meant to give up on love, and therefore there has to be some kind of default love that is failsafe. A lot of you probably know where I’m going with this. But regardless of whether or not you do, you probably need to hear it as much as I do, so keep reading.
Perfect love. What a beautiful concept. We’d never be disappointed. Never hurt. Never left to the side. Never overlooked. We’d always feel it, always know of it, always return to it when we find ourselves broken and hurting. And the best part? It’s real. No, seriously, it exists. I know. Tuesday was one of a few different times in my life where I found myself sprinting back to it. Don’t get me wrong; it’s always been there. I just… forget. I convince myself I’ve found something better. And even as I sit here, this war wages on in my head. But I know the truth.
So what is it, you ask? Well, I’ll put it simply: the Creator who instilled this desire to love within your heart is the same being that deserves it. “We love,” explains 1 John 4:19, “because he first loved us.” Really. You were made to know God and love him. That is why you exist; it is the very essence of your being. Love between human beings exists so that we might be able to get the slightest grasp on God’s love for us. But, in my personal opinion (and I could be wrong here), it also exists so that we recognize how amazing it is that God, the God, actually loves us without fail. See, everyone else lets us down, even when we love them with every ounce of our being. But God doesn’t let us down. He never fails. Sounds crazy, right?
Okay, I agree, it does. How can God possibly love everyone? Really? That seems impossible. And trust me, I’ve struggled with this over the years. And, if you’ll allow the quick rabbit trail, I’ll explain why, simply because you’ve probably been there too. First of all, I’m a terrible person. This isn’t me beating myself up; this is a fact pulled straight out of Scripture. I am a horrible, sinful person. But you, my friend, are also a horrible, sinful person. You’ve done terrible things, some of which you may not have ever told a soul. And you know it’s true. We’re all terrible. Unspeakably terrible. So how could God love us? Second, I’m just one person. One. Who cares? Certainly not God. God spends time on people like Billy Graham. Not Colby Davis. But I’m forgetting something when I doubt God’s love for me.
You see, God is God. Think about it. The attributes of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God are way beyond what our finite minds can understand. Therefore, his capacity to love greatly exceeds our own. It also greatly exceeds our own understanding, for 1 John explains that God is love. It comes from him, and therefore it exists because of him. But it gets better. God’s love also exceeds how horrible we are. I’m preaching to the choir on this one, because I struggle to believe that on a day-to-day basis. But again, he’s God, and God is love. So he loves me. He loves you. It’s in his nature. That’s just what God does. So what?
Wait, “so what?” The greatest being known to mankind loves me, and that’s all I can come up with? “So what?” No. This changes everything. EVERYTHING. There has to be a reason for this. The God of the universe creates me, then chooses to love me even after I sin. So he sends his Son to live a perfect, blameless life that I in no way have the ability to live, then allows him to pay the ultimate punishment for all of the sins of mankind through death on a cross. And now he’s alive. He comes back three days later, conquering sin and death. My sin. My death. All on him. All taken care of. Now I’m free from sin.
But there’s more to it! I’m free to love. That ultimate love, that perfect love I was talking about? I have that now. And it doesn’t fail. That doesn’t mean my life gets better. It would be naïve of me to think so. After all, what is love without sacrifice? It’s hard. But it’s perfect. And the emptiness? It’s gone. I have what I was looking for. My purpose is being fulfilled, and I’ll never find anything that even comes close.
So let’s circle this ridiculously long conversation back around to a conclusion. Yes, I struggle. I get lonely. Empty. And so do you. But there’s a reason now, you see. It’s not because you don’t have enough friends, or a spouse, or money, or fame, or glory, or whatever else you’ve been pouring your entire existence into. It’s because you lost sight of ultimate love. The only love known to mankind that has never screwed anyone over. God’s love.
Where, then, do you put your hope? Ah, you thought I forgot that I started with hope. Well I did not. Where do you put your hope? And how’s that going for you? Are you happy? I mean, are you really happy? Because, truth be told, the only times you ever see me miserable are the times when I lose my focus. My hope is in Christ. Everything else has and will continue to fail me. And, to be honest, it’s been a hard week. It took me two days to write this blog post because I couldn’t work up the nerve to write the happy part Tuesday. Thankfully, I have good, godly friends who set my head on straight, but still, it’s been rough. And the only reason, I mean, the only reason I’m not sitting around sulking right now and instead am writing this post that only five people (give or take) will read is because I’m realigning my sights.
So I leave you with two things. First, as you know, I’m a music guy. So here’s a worship song. Honestly, I think a lot of popular Christian music out there is kind of awful, but this song not only sounds good; it’s also very real (and applicable, so go listen). Second, I’m going to leave you with a Psalm. If you’ve read it before, read it again. If not, please dissect this thing as much as possible. It’s beautiful poetry, but, much more than that, it’s truth. Real truth about real love. Oh, and one more thing. I understand that I’m not perfect. These are just the words of a frustrated college kid who needs to sort some stuff out. And while I probably didn’t spout heresy, odds are this isn’t the most theologically sound blog post you’ve ever read. Nevertheless, it’s from the heart. So, while you should take nothing but Scripture as ultimate truth, don’t pick this apart either. I don’t say that because I can’t take the insult (honestly I could use the criticism), but because there’s a greater subject at hand. You are loved. Now go love. Oh, and smile. :)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
–Psalm 121 (ESV)