“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Friend to Friend
Most of us live in a world of performance-based acceptance. We make good grades and mommy is proud. We look pretty and daddy smiles. We do a good job at work and the boss is pleased. We serve at church and congregation thinks we are “good Christians.”
Unfortunately that same sense of having to perform well to be accepted by people can easily roll over into our relationship with God. We falsely believe that we must perform well to be loved and accepted by Him, when nothing could be further from the truth. As a result, we strive to obtain something that we already have…God’s unconditional love.
Anabel Gillham was a woman who loved God, but had trouble accepting that God could love her. Sure, she knew the Bible verses that talked of God’s unconditional love for her. And yet she knew herself and doubted a God who knew her innermost thoughts would approve of her.
Then God used a very special person to help Annabel understand the depths of His love for her – her second child, Mason David Gilham, who was extremely mentally challenged. Let’s let Anabel tell you her story.
I never doubted for a moment that Jesus loved that profoundly retarded little boy. It didn’t matter that he would never sit with the kids in the back of the church and on a certain special night walk down the aisle, take the pastor by the hand, and invite Jesus into his heart. It was entirely irrelevant that he could not quote a single verse of Scripture, that he would never go to high school, or that he would never be a dad. I knew that Jesus loved Mason.
What I could not comprehend, what I could not accept, was that Jesus could love Mason’s mother, Anabel. You see, I believed that in order for a person to accept me, to love me, I had to perform for him. My standard for getting love was performance-based, so I “performed” constantly, perfectly. In fact, I did not allow anyone to see me when I was not performing perfectly. I never had any close friends because I was convinced that if a person ever really got to know me, he wouldn’t like me.
Mason could never have performed for his parent’s love, or for anyone’s love, but oh, how they loved him. His condition deteriorated to such a degree—and so rapidly—that they had to place him in an institution when he was very young. His parents enrolled him in the Enid State School for Mentally Handicapped Children. They drove regularly 120 miles to see him but occasionally also brought him home for a visit.
On one particular visit, Mason had been with them since Thursday evening. On the following Saturday afternoon God painted a vivid picture of His great love for Anabel through Mason. She was standing at the kitchen sink, dreading what lay ahead. In just a few moments, she would be gathering Mason’s things together and taking him back to “his house.” She had done this many times before—and it was never easy—but today God had something in mind that would change her life forever.
“I stood up to the sink again,” she continued. “More dishes, more washing, more crying – and thoughts, foreign to my way of thinking, began filtering into my conscious awareness. I believe God spoke to me that day, and this is what He said: “Anabel, you don’t look at your son and turn away in disgust because he’s sitting there with saliva drooling out of his mouth; you don’t shake your head, repulsed because he has dinner all over his shirt or because he’s sitting in a dirty, smelly diaper when he ought to be able to take care of himself.
“Anabel, you don’t reject Mason because all of the dreams you had for him have been destroyed. You don’t reject him because he doesn’t perform for you. You love him, Anabel, just because he is yours. Mason doesn’t willfully reject your love, but you willfully reject Mine. I love you, Anabel, not because you’re neat or attractive, or because you do things well, not because you perform for Me but just because you’re Mine.”
And friend, that’s exactly how God feels about you. He loves you just because you’re His.
Marinate in that love today.
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me unconditionally. You love me when I perform well, and when I fall flat on my face. Help me to love others the same.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Do you ever feel that God loves you more when you perform well?
I’m guessing you said, “yes.” So tell me, what is wrong with that way of thinking?
More from the Girlfriends
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