"But I Love You!"

Dear Friends:
My readings today all seemed to fall under the same topic of God’s “over-whelming” love. Paul remarked that God’s love “constrained him” and other Christian authors have talked about the love of God as being so sublime that any other love were almost of no consequence. It occurred to me that the times I have felt the constraining power and presence of God’s love that nothing else seemed to matter—nothing. And I don’t mean to suggest that I alway feel the power of that constraining love. Unlike the spiritual giants I look up to my encounters with God’s all-encompassing love are far more limited than I wish!
Several years ago I was suffering from the anxiety of running the camp, raising the funds for our capital drive, trying to keep peace among our resident staff, etc, etc. It was simply too much  for me to handle. One night I awoke about 3:00 am with a thousand anxious questions about the next day (it was during the summer and everything was happening fast and furiously!) and I pleaded to God to help me!  I admitted that I was unfit for the tasks at hand and I begged Him to help me find answers, strength and the power to survive the next day! And that’s when it happened: He spoke to me.  And I am not talking figuratively: He spoke to me in a voice that I could audibly discern. A gentle, “small” voice—unmistakable the voice God speaking to me!  
I had just poured out my heart and my worries to Him, and now, for only the third time in my life, He was speaking to me again. And His words calmed my fears, put me at perfect peace and caused me to not only smile and have total peace, but I felt the over-whelming joy of the Lord. His words were simple but incredibly powerful; He merely said these four words——the most important words in the world for me: “But I love you”.  That was it—and it’s all I needed to hear!  Think of it? If GOD loves me—what do I have to worry about!!  If GOD cares me, then WHO CARES about all the attacks and stress I am under!!  God is “watching my back”, what do I need to fear?!!!!
And then I prayed again and told Him, “If I could hear you tell me this, every day, I could do anything for you Lord! Nothing could stop me!  And then, for the next thirty minutes, as tears rolled down from my face, I heard Him say, “but  I love you, but I love you, but I love you”……for thirty minutes!. NOTHING in my life has been so purposeful, fulfilling, awe-inspiring and encouraging as hearing HIM tell ME that He LOVED ME!
God is not a liar, and I was not intoxicated or hallucinating. It was real and I knew it then and remember it now. He LOVES me—-what can mere man do to me if my Redeemer LOVES ME.
Yes, God’s love “grips” and “holds” you when you come to experience the depth of it—-you’re prepared for anything!!   My greatest need is to remember and recall the things that I know are true!
Dean Barley

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