Can you think of a habit or struggle you’ve had longer than you’d like? One of those insidious ones that you think you’ve eradicated but then it pops up like an overgrown root under a sidewalk. Suddenly you are face down, knees and palms bloodied, wondering how you could have ended up there again? Surely, there’s no way that God is not disappointed in you.
What is your normal reaction in your relationship with God when you mess up?
I can tell you what mine is. Maybe you’ve experienced it, too.
I don’t let myself off the hook easily. For most of my life I thought I had to prove to God I was really sorry, and I knew the full weight of what I had done. This purposeful penance came out in several ways. Moping, shame, feeling sorry for myself, escaping into books or tv, and avoiding talking to God directly until I felt I showed a properly contrite heart.
After that, however long that whole process took, I would raise my head tentatively and try to decide if God had forgiven me. Was he still disappointed? Or could I resume my normal life of seeking him again? I had to give myself permission to believe he loved me again.
God’s Love Isn’t Linear
A few years ago I remember the thought hitting me that God doesn’t love in a line. His love isn’t linear. It doesn’t change with time the same way I move through time. He loves me as a whole person. Granny Leanna, baby Leanna, angsty teen Leanna. He loves the whole Leanna, all at once, because when he looks at me, he sees Christ in me, and who I am as a whole Child of God.
Try this on for size. God is not disappointed in you. Why? Disappointment implies that God has an expectation you will act in a certain way, and instead, you let him down.
He’s God. He knows you. Current. Past. And Future you. He knows your thoughts, your decisions. When you fell into that pit? He knew it was coming. Guess what – He loves you. He’s for you. He loves the whole you from beginning to end.
No circumstance, no mistake, no disobedience will stop him from loving you or cause him to be disappointed in you. But sad for you? Maybe. I think it grieves his heart to see his kids living below the freedom he’s designed for them to walk in. He wants us to make choices aligned with him and his word so that our lives will radiate his glory and grace all the more.
“Oh God…I Blew It!”
Of course we all want to radiate his glory and grace, but the good news is that even in our perceived failures, we still get to radiate God’s redemptive power of restoration. When we crawl up out of the pit after our last mistake, envious thought, or harsh word, we can show that God’s not done with us yet. We can dust ourselves off, repent, apologize, and move forward covered in his grace.
I heard Graham Cooke describe it like this. When we mess up, as new creations with our old selves crucified in Christ, we only need to say, “Oh God! You gave me an opportunity to practice your patience just now, and I blew it! Forgive me. Please give me another opportunity to learn to practice patience. Thank you!”
Then we move on. And we try again, walking in confidence that God never stopped loving us.
Honestly this is a lesson I’m learning now. I hope to continue improving as I practice.
As I have practiced and learned more about God’s character and as I have leaned into the fact that God doesn’t love linearly, I have begun to repent more quickly, ditch the shame, and move forward. He loves me, he is for me. Even when I bite it face first into the dust, very publicly. He isn’t disappointed. He knew it was coming. He’s loving me through it to the other side.
Disappointment Isn’t in God’s Vocabulary
Hey Friend, hear this. He loves you. He’s for you. Today. Right this second, even if you did binge eat the entire cake you were saving for your husband’s birthday party. Even if you just yelled at your kids for the 13th time this afternoon. Even if you binge watched a show that you knew wasn’t healthy for your heart. God is not disappointed. He loves you, he’s for you. He’s ready to help you up.
He’s waiting for you to ask for a little help and an outpouring of comfort, peace, and love. Dust yourself off, stand up tall, and lean back into your Father’s loving arms. Disappointment isn’t in his vocabulary, but Unconditional Love certainly is.
I’m reminded of Stuart Townend’s lyrics.
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give his only Son
To make a wretch his treasureHow Deep the Father’s Love for Us, Stuart Townend
Yeah, you were a wretch before you met him, but now, you’re his treasure. You can’t go back to the old identity once you’ve walked in the new. Leave the wretch in the pit. Let yourself be treasured, friend, because God is not disappointed in you.