I was thinking again yesterday about the mysterious prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians! ‘that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and how high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:17-19. To me it suggests that there is much of God’s love that is beyond our comprehension, but that we are invited to explore or push into His love more and more. God’s love is clearly unfathomable and is something into which we can go ever deeper.
One time as a young Christian, I was asking the Lord to show me His love. I was wanting a onetime overwhelming experience that would last me for the rest of my life, and after which I would never doubt again!! The Holy Spirit seemed to be saying to me, “It’s there in the bible. My love has been demonstrated on the cross. There is nothing more to say.” I think the Lord wanted me to be ‘rooted and established in love’, and I quickly realised that any experience that He gave me would not necessarily last. The next day, next week or next year it would be easy to think back and wonder, “Was that really the Lord? Did I imagine that? Why have those feelings gone now, has the Lord’s love gone too?” In other words experiences alone without being rooted in the truth of God’s Word, would leave me like any mystic, (from any religion) vulnerable to doubts and the need to seek further experiences.
So how then do we get to ‘know this love of God that surpasses knowledge?’ Feelings and experiences are good, as is understanding truth with my mind, but I am now thinking that, in addition to those, our wonderful Heavenly Father is an expert in love languages, and that He will use many different languages of love to help us explore the height, depth, length and breadth of His love.
I needed, back then as a young christian, to understand that finding out how much God loves me is a lifetimes journey. His love is unbounded and limitless. This explains why my ‘one off lifetime experience to settle the matter’, was not a good idea. God loves us enough to want for us to grow and develop an understanding of His love, through all the different seasons of life; in the peaceful times and the turbulent; in the context of His body and when I am walking with Him on my own. David understood this, and wrote the 23rd Psalm. No wonder he was described as ‘a man after God’s own heart’. 1 Samuel 13:14.
In Gary Chapman’s book, ‘5 Love Languages’ he explains how we all have different ways of expressing and receiving love. He delineates five main ‘Love Languages’, (although there may be more). They are i) Words of affirmation, ii) Quality time, iii) Physical touch, iv) Acts of service, and v) Gifts. I got to thinking how God uses all of these languages. He knows what will touch our hearts, and while we do need to be rooted and grounded in the truth – ‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us’. 1 John 3:16, I believe God also delights to show us His love daily, and take us deeper into that love by using all those love languages highlighted in Gary Chapman’s book.
He gives us ‘Words of affirmation’ – when He does, receive them with thanksgiving. DON’T dismiss them! He will give us endless time to talk to Him, and He will listen to us, and hear what is in our hearts. Be thankful that you can pray at anytime and anywhere. He will touch our bodies with health and healing, and with renewal and refreshment, as we come and ‘wait on Him’ Isaiah 40:28-31. Wait on Him with a grateful heart and you will prove this scripture to be true. He does so many amazing ‘acts of service for us’. Learn to recognise these lovely acts of pure kindness, as well as His daily practical care, and be thankful so that, at all costs, you resist the urge to dismiss these things as coincidences. Similarly accept His gifts with great gratitude, and you’ll find other gifts will come your way very soon.
So I am saying here that ‘thanksgiving’ is key to our exploration of God’s love, ‘the height length depth and breadth of it’. Thanksgiving keeps us alert and aware of all those ways in which God expresses love to us. And little by little, until we reach heaven, we can, by expressing our gratitude, discover more and more of His endless love everyday.