Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
Is God’s Love Sufficient?
The dark cloud of Alzheimer’s threatened. I kept forgetting things said and done. Time concepts, simple vocabulary, and familiar names eluded me.
Shocked that firemen sat in front of the firehouse in shorts, I thought it was early March, not late August after a blistering summer. Later, on December 8, I was sure it was the day after Christmas. Once, I thought my name was Pat, not Kay.
Once I had no recollection of home. While taking off in an airplane, I couldn’t recall the name of the town I was from, what my house looked like, what airport I was flying from, or how.
It was 1999, and I was terrified of what the future might hold for me. And for my husband. Desperate, I prayed, seeking strength, courage, and understanding of what God wanted from me.
The Lord spoke as clearly as if I’d heard words. He said, “If you decline until you can’t do anything and don’t know anything except My love, will that be enough? Will you be content?”
Is God’s love sufficient? My measure of worth was too tied up with how productive I was. I doubted I could be content if I was not productive.
After wrestling with God, I conceded, “I’m willing to be content to know only your love, but I need for you to teach me how.”
I discovered I had mercury poisoning. When the mercury was removed, my cognition greatly improved. God gave me a second chance.
However, headaches began to trouble me, increasing in frequency and intensity until my days were dominated by migraines. Doctors couldn’t identify their source or find any help. Headaches ruled my life and greatly curtailed my productivity. For four months, I had one day and two half days when I was headache free and felt okay.
God’s question returned, “Am I enough? Would you be content with just knowing My love?”
God has been with me. I’ve experienced His love, grace, and strength in the midst of migraines. I’ve known that His grace is sufficient.
But, that is not the same as knowing I’d be content with only His love.
I know I grow through hard times (James 1:2-4). The Lord is with me, and will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5-6). He works all things for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29), and He is faithful and trustworthy (Deuteronomy 7:9).
And yet I wonder. Can I be content to simply know His love?
In His mercy, God gave me a second reprieve. Unsolicited advice from an acquaintance led to the cause of my headaches and successful treatment. They are almost totally all gone, along with the debilitating symptoms that accompany migraines.
I can’t remember when I’ve felt so good, and am rejoicing at God’s mercy.
But His question lingers. “Am I sufficient?”
We recently sang Bill and Gloria Gaither’s “Because He Lives,” including the line, “Life is worth the living, just because He lives.” And I wondered, “Do I mean it?”
God not only lives. He chose me, loves me, protects me, provides for me. He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), and “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I have life because of Him. But, is life worth the living just because He lives?
Is He sufficient? The question is valid for all who know Him. Jesus gave His all for us; He “fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23), and He wants to be our all. The question is, “Is He enough?”
Do you know His love? Would His love be sufficient if He were all you knew?
If we want to grow in our love for the Lord, we must draw near to Him through His Word. As we learn to know Him intimately, our love will increase and we’ll desire to obey. Unless we invest in Scripture, our fervor for the Lord will fall short of what it could be.
What does your lifestyle reveal about the depth of your devotion to Christ—can others see it clearly in your conversation, character, and conduct? And if you ever feel disappointed that your love for Christ seems small, open the Word of God and obey whatever He says. He will abide with you and disclose Himself, thereby increasing your capacity to love and know Him more.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)
Never reduce Christianity to a matter of demands and resolutions and willpower. It is a matter of what we love, what we delight in, what tastes good to us.
When Jesus came into the world, humanity was split according to what they loved. “The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19). The righteous and the wicked are separated by what they delight in — the revelation of God in Jesus, or the way of the world.
So someone may ask: How can I come to delight in the word of God? My answer is twofold:
1) pray for new tastebuds on the tongue of your heart;
2) meditate on the staggering promises of God to his people.
The same psalmist who said, “How sweet are your words to my taste” (Psalm 119:103), said earlier, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). He prayed this, because to have spiritual eyes to see glory, or to have holy tastebuds on the tongue of the heart, is a gift of God. No one naturally hungers for, and delights in, God and his wisdom.
But when you have prayed, indeed while you pray, meditate on the benefits God promises to his people and on the joy of having Almighty God as your helper now and forever. Psalm 1:3–4 says that the person who meditates on God’s word “is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”
Who would not delight to read a book, the reading of which would change one from useless chaff to a mighty cedar of Lebanon, from a Texas dust bowl to a Hawaiian orchard? Nobody deep down wants to be chaff — rootless, weightless, useless. All of us want to draw strength from some deep river of reality and become fruitful, useful people.
That river of reality is the word of God, and all the great saints have been made great by it.
Streams in the Desert – March 19
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Many a waiting hour was needful to enrich the harp of David, and many a waiting hour in the wilderness will gather for us a psalm of “thanksgiving, and the voice of melody,” to cheer the hearts of fainting ones here below, and to make glad our Father’s house on high.
What was the preparation of the son of Jesse for the songs like unto which none other have ever sounded on this earth? The outrage of the wicked, which brought forth cries for God’s help. Then the faint hope in God’s goodness blossomed into a song of rejoicing for His mighty deliverances and manifold mercies. Every sorrow was another string to his harp; every deliverance another theme for praise.
One thrill of anguish spared, one blessing unmarked or unprized, one difficulty or danger evaded, how great would have been our loss in that thrilling Psalmody in which God’s people today find the expression of their grief or praise!
To wait for God, and to suffer His will, is to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. So now, if the vessel is to be enlarged for spiritual understanding, be not affrighted at the wider sphere of suffering that awaits you. The Divine capacity of sympathy will have a more extended sphere, for the breathing of the Holy Ghost in the new creation never made a stoic, but left the heart’s affection tender and true.