I once heard a landscaper jokingly dub my mother the “queen of boxwoods.” He was spot on—ancient boxwoods surrounded our house, outlining every bed and sidewalk. On hot, dry summer days the “queen” often sent her loyal subjects (my sister Lisa and me) out to water the boxwoods by hand.
One sticky, overcast afternoon, I was really tired of watering. I held the hose, swatting at mosquitoes and praying for rain. God must have been listening because soon it began to pour. By the time we turned off the water and rolled up the hoses we were soaked. Excitedly, we sprinted up the porch stairs and paused to catch our breath.
“Look at the boxwoods!” Lisa whispered. “That’s so weird.” Rain drummed against the roof as we stood on the porch, mesmerized, watching the giant, green boxwoods visibly relax their branches. It looked like the bushes were slowly opening their arms wide to receive water from above. Fat raindrops quickly saturated the thick outer layer of leaves, and then soaked the inward branches. Finally, the rain began to pool around their shallow, tangled roots.
We were delighted! We gave each other high-fives and raced back into the house. We knew the heavy rain would sustain the boxwoods for days.
It’s kind of like that for us, spiritually. Like the boxwoods, our souls need to open up and drink in God’s lovein order to thrive. Part of seeking to know God includes opening our hearts to receive His love, daily. The knowledge of His love can be stored in our souls (. :), like water is stored in a jar, filling us until it overflows to others.
Of course, most of us know (intellectually) that God loves us. Some of us grew up singing songs about it in Sunday school. We read about God’s love in the Bible and even on billboards and bumper stickers. We often tell others that God loves them. But do we really grasp it?
I don’t, always.
When I feel like nobody cares about me, it’s easy to forget that God cares. A bout of anxiety can leave me feeling like God must be leaning back in His easy chair, totally unaware of my troubles. When someone treats me harshly, it’s easy to wonder if God might be a bit harsh too. When I fail to love others, it’s difficult for me to imagine that God still loves me just the same as He did yesterday and will tomorrow.
In Ephesians 3, Paul admits that comprehending God’s love isn’t easy. He prays that God will help the Ephesians (and us) grasp it: “May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it” (Eph. 3:17-19 , mine). Paul wants us to experience God’s love, even though we can’t fully comprehend it, because this helps us take hold of the reality in which every child of God lives. This is the truth that sets us free. God’s love helps us live and love differently. A growing sense of being loved infuses our minds with peace and hope. The more we store His love away in our hearts, the more we have to give away to others.
*This is an excerpt from Seeking a Familiar Face: The transformational Journey of Connecting With God by May Patterson. To find out more about May’s book or schedule an event, visit her website at: maypatterson.com
The Upper Room lifts the spirits of residents I serve as a correctional chaplain. Christians and non-Christians read the devotions, reminding them of an alternative path to a loving God that will walk alongside them through the good and ugly of life.”
The Upper Room Chaplains’ Ministry provides military, VA hospital, and prison chaplains copies of the daily devotional for their ministry. Give today to support the Chaplains’ Ministry.