I felt lost! I could not feel the love of God. I felt He was disappointed in me.
I did not pray enough, I did not evangelize enough, I did not read His word enough, etc. I felt that there was a certain peak I had to get to each day in order for Him to love me—in order to feel good about my self.
And because He had taken away His presence (yes, He took his presence from me—I will explain later), I could not feel Him—I couldn’t pray. I actually felt oppressed when I read His Word. I could not connect with him and, thus, I felt like a complete failure.
Why would God do this to me?
God did this to me! But, why?
This was my experience for a year and half. It began about two years after I came to Yeshua. And I needed it because I did not understand His gospel.
I had it backwards. You see, I thought, if I am good enough, He will love me. If I work hard enough, pray, evangelize, read the word—then I was at peace. I would pray for an hour looking at the clock. That is not prayer! That is not relationship! I don’t sit with my wife in the morning over coffee like a robot—asking her how she is, while waiting for the clock to hit one hour. But that was my relationship with God.
No, we do not earn His love. The Bible doesn’t say that He loves me because I love Him! It is states clearly that, “we love because He loved us first.”(1 John 4:19) Furthermore, Romans states that when Ron Cantor was still a sinner, Jesus died for him. (Romans 5:8).
Yes, the way He expressed his love for me, when I did not love Him, know Him or care to know Him, was to die a gruesome death for me. There is not a greater expression of love. Yeshua says, “There is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends.”
But I was trying to earn God’s love. This was because I suffered from rejection. It came from my father. He was very cold and closed. I never felt much emotion from him. I can’t remember him smiling at me, telling me he loved me or was proud of me. I was jealous of my friends and their fathers. Dads are supposed to be an example of God to their children, to show them what He is like. As a result, I felt rejection in all my relationships.
(Amazingly, today, my dad and I are best friends! When I was a kid, he didn’t talk and now I can’t shut him up! I love it!)
When I came to faith, it all disappeared. I thought it was over. I felt the love of God. Yet, God wanted me to deal with the root problem. I remember the day it all came back. I was talking to a leader in our congregation and he said something to me that projected rejection. It came into me like a blanket, and I could not get rid of it. It followed me to Bible school.I shared the gospel. I worked harder than everyone else, but not for the right reasons.
Root of Pride!
This works mentality came from two places: rejection and pride. I wanted to be the best believer there was! I would work harder than others. I didn’t like verses like 1 Corinthians 15:10 where the apostles said, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” No, I wanted the credit. I wanted my rewards in Heaven!
So, God took all my zeal away for the next year and a half. I didn’t want to do anything for God. I knew it was Him, but I didn’t know what He was doing or why He was doing it.
Massive Inner Healing
And, then, I met John Sheasby. He was our guest speaker for the week and he worked in inner healing. When I met him, I was completely broken. We spoke for four hours and, by the end, I was crying. He ministered truth to me. He explained that there was no way for God to love me more than He already did. As I said, he demonstrated his love for me by dying for me when I was a dirt bag!
He loves me if I pray or don’t pray; if I share or don’t share. Of course there is work to be done, but not to obtain the love of God. I learned that we do those things as an expression of gratefulness to God for what He has done for us. I obey Yeshua not to get something, but because I love Him.
Is God mad at you?
I have found that most believers feel that God is a little bit mad at them. Often, most who feel this way minister out of their deep need for acceptance, not out of love for God. Many think they are in ministry to get affirmation from the congregation. Many write and preach to hear the praise of men because they are not whole. When you are whole internally (spiritually and emotionally) and know your worth before God, you do not need the praise of men.
Sadly, many ministers have abused the people of God in their desire to serve God! They are so (unintentionally) focused on feeding their wound of rejection and looking for acceptance, that they can even be downright mean.
I once said, regarding a leader I knew, that he loved the visionof his congregation so much that he was willing to kill the peoplein the congregation, not realizing that they are the vision!If you don’t love the people, you don’t really love the vision.
Why do you do what you do? To impress others? To find God’s love? Or to say thank you to Jesus for all that He has done?
What if you lost it all?
Here is the question: what if you lost everything? What if your spouse left you, your kids turned on you, the congregation hated you, or your boss fired you? What if every source that feed your self-esteem turned against you? For me, that would be writing and preaching. What if instead of encouragement, I started seeing large numbers unsubscribe from my blog?
How would I respond? Would I still be secure in God? Would I still have the confidence and self-worth that I possess today?
I think of Job. After he lost everything, he said, “The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Even when his wife said,“Curse God and die!” he continued in faith.
You see, so many people find their worth in what they do: Their job, the place of respect in the community or their nearly perfect family. But if you lost it all, would you still know your value before God?
That is when you know your soul is healed—when your worth comes from His love for you, not because of what you do.
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, December 14, 2018, and reposted with permission.