I feel the need to share this, even though it doesn't have much to do with cancer.
"I have done too many horrible things."
"I treat my family awfully."
"I have never read the Bible."
"You should see how many past relationships I have. I'm a tramp."
"My own parents don't love me. How can God?"
"I pray all the time for God to take away my pain, but he doesn't. My life is horrible."
"I've had too many painful things happen to me, and I'm angry that God let them happen."
"I don't even think God exists."
He doesn't love me.
He doesn't care.
Dearest friends, acquaintances, strangers, and Google searchers: I want you to know that no matter what you have done in your life, whatever you are struggling with, God's love is unconditional.
It is not dependent on what you do.
You haven't earned it. It's just there.
Isn't that a relief?
If you're a parent, let me appeal to your emotions for a second. You love your child, no matter what. Recently Colton has been beginning to show his "true" colors, so to speak. He throws tantrums for the silliest reasons. Today he thought that perhaps he could escape the humiliating confines of his carseat by screaming, thrashing, and kicking. All it did was knock off his shoe. His tantrums drive me insane, like 20 fingernails screeching down a chalkboard all at once. But you know what? In spite of the fact that I can barely grocery shop with him anymore without an embarrassing meltdown, I adore that kid. Right after he vomits on me, I coo over him. He smacks me across the face intentionally, and I love him still. Dirty diaper? Yep, I'll gladly change it for him with a smile on my face (okay, that was a stretch). Yes, he does give the best hugs and kisses which are awesome, but the only thing that he has ever done to merit my love is to have been born. And truthfully, I was pretty intensely in love with him before he born. I loved him from the minute I saw two lines on a pregnancy test, since the moment that I knew he (or maybe she, at that point in time) existed.
God's love for you is that same tender, all-encompassing love. Yes, he is fully just too. He hates sin, and yet he intensely loves the same wretched people that break his commandments every single day. I have been getting emails and comments from people that think I'm being very transparent on this blog. Here is a moment of transparency: although I am a sinner saved by grace and strive (mostly) to live my life in accordance with God's will, I.screw.up.constantly. I lie occasionally. I am so mean to my husband sometimes that it's ridiculous. I am short with my son. I think judgmental thoughts about people. I could go on and on, but I still want you to have a shred of respect for me!
And you know what, I was far, far worse before I was saved. Without dredging up a lot of painful, emotionally-charged memories, I will succinctly summarize the first half of my teenage years as rebellious and hedonistic. None of that matters anymore. I don't like it, I'm not proud of it, but it happened and now I understand adolescence in a unique way that many others don't. And the moment that I decided to follow Christ at the age of 16, every last one of those sins was forgiven. Wiped out.
Because my God cared enough about me to allow his son to die on a Roman cross for my sins (lucky for you that I'm not God, because I would not be so generous with my Colton). My sins are forgiven, and I will not spend eternity apart from God. That is the ultimate peace that Ryan and I have: whenever the Lord chooses to take us home, eternity is taken care of for us...it is just the part between now and then that freaks us out.
And you know what? Even though there is a painful, hard situation that God is allowing me to go through, that does not mean that he loves me less than you, or that I'm being punished. God is in the process of doing some very painful surgery on my heart and on Ryan's. I feel like we are being dragged through an emotional meat grinder on some days, and we kind of are. But throughout this, God's grace has been more tangible than I can describe to you. His peace has descended on us like a security blanket, and he has sent people and words of encouragement to us at incredibly specific times to gird us. We are not alone, and our God has not forsaken us. I do know that he hurts to see us hurt, but in these hard times, he wants us to RUN to him and pour our troubles at his feet.
God loves you. Intensely. He created you to be exactly who you are. He has allowed things to happen to you that shape who you are as a person. You are unique. But your story, however painful and rotten and horrible it is, is just your past. What you do with his love, the love that was poured out on you at Calvary, is what defines you and your future and your legacy.
So. I strayed far from the topic of cancer, but there was definitely a tug at my heart to tell you this good news.