I’m learning a lot from writing my book proposal. For one thing, I learned that the book I want to write is not a conglomeration of advice and devotional words…and whatever else I wanted to toss in. What I really want to write, and what my people need, is the devotional part with GOD’s Word playing a large part of what is said. The reason behind it is that GOD’s Word can bounce around in our heads with positive encouragement in ways nothing else does.
Which is more hopeful and encouraging to you? Having someone say, “GOD loves you.” or the more picturesque, memorable, and encouraging passage below that will be bouncing around in your head?
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42:5-8 ESV
The setting of this passage is more typical of what your life may be like. Turmoil in your soul…any of a number of things can be going on. They may be sadness, grief, even guilt and anger at times, certainly weariness too. Sometimes the overwhelmed-ness can feel like waterfalls or waves coming over you, can’t they?
What kind of love is this that GOD has for His people?
But what is there in the middle of it all? Is it some trite, “love” that is passing and temporary? That would hardly hold up would it? It is GOD’s steadfast love. We read of it over and over in the Old Testament especially. It is the Covenant love of the Father for His children who fail Him
over and over. They think they can keep the Ten Commandments, but before Moses can even get down from the mountain, they have broken some of them by building the golden calf to worship and partying in ways that weren’t in line with those same commands.
Over and over in the history of the nation of Israel, they fail to obey GOD, but He steadfastly loves them anyway. Yes, He punishes them for sure, but He loves them too. The two are not divorced. This steadfast love often involves pain. But He continues to love them. Apart from Jesus’ coming to earth and dying for us, the human example of this is the prodigal son’s Father.
The Prodigal Son’s Father is a picture of God’s love for us.
His son caused embarrassment to the family, used family money in ways that were unwise and certainly not in ways he would have used it, yet he still watched with anticipation for his son to come home! And when he did, what did the father do? He had a huge celebration! Why? Because his son had come home and was alive!
Sadly, the older brother is like the Pharisees and many church people are. They keep the rules, but their heart isn’t in it. When a person comes back home, they can’t rejoice. All they can see is the rules he broke.
Sadly, the older brother did not get it at all! But there was that steadfast love. It hangs in through the storms, the waves, the hurricanes! It never stops loving. What a wonderful Father we have!
Steadfast, covenant love. this is what it is.
This is the same love that goes to the cross in obedience to the Father, and dies for the sin of people who don’t deserve it…who don’t appreciate it at the time. That’s what Jesus did.
What other examples can you think of in Bible history that show GOD’s steadfast love?
What examples can you think of in your life that show GOD’s steadfast love?