Skipping across the dirt campground toward the teacher I feel free and relaxed. She has blown her whistle as the signal for us to gather together for the afternoon study. It’s a small gathering of girls at Big Sur campground in California. I must have been about seven or eight years old. The only time I attended Sunday School was just in time for the vacation Bible school camp. I’d go just long enough to qualify to be able to go to camp.
Mom would drop us off at church and then pick us up afterwards. There was no family of Mom, Dad, and four children lined in the pew singing and praising. Dad ridiculed, laughing and making fun. Mom stayed home ignoring him. My older sister and I went to Sunday School. I knew that was the only way to get to go camping for a week with the other little girls.
It was so much fun. One day we busied ourselves painting on plaster of Paris. Something we would get to carry home. An array of crafts were enjoyed each day. I still have this plaster of Paris little token of one of our daily craft sessions.
Campfires with roasted marshmellows on a stick, hot dogs sizzling at the end of a fork. Short Bible stories were told while gathered near the camp fire and enjoying the sound of crickets chirping in the background. Swimming in the roped off section of the lake during the hot part of the bright summer day. Oh what joy. Oh what a relief to be away from home.
What I didn’t know was the Lord was using this opportunity to plant His seeds of faith within my heart. He knew the circumstances of my abusive home life and apparently knew that at some point in my life I would need the faith He was burying deep within me. It would take many years to pass before that seed of hope, love, and faith would come bubbling forth.
Fast forward some 40-42 years.
Sitting on the carpeted floor of a Sunday School room and leaning against the wall I’m listening to the pastor as he’s teaching. I’m a new Christian and trying to understand. The pastor, for some un-known reason, looks directly at me and states boldly, “God loves you!” Without hesitation the words fly forth from my lips, “So what, He loves everyone!” Needless to say the room got very, very quiet.
As I grew in my relationship with Christ I began understanding just how important those words are. “God loves you.” But over the years I’ve also recognized that those words have also, almost, become similar to a cliché. “Yeah, yeah, so what. He loves everyone.”
The closer my relationship with Him, the more I’ve understood that His love goes far beyond anything we can even fathom. Yes, God loves us with an everlasting love but many of us don’t want to think about the discipline part of His love. We don’t want to think about the wrath that He pored out on certain nations or peoples and will pour out again. We don’t want to think about the consequences of disobedience or rebellion. Neither did Adam and Eve.
It’s so much easier to think of a warm fuzzy love poured out on us 24/7. That way I don’t have to think about the sins I commit, the consequences of those sins, or that I need to even admit I sin! I can sit back and make statements like, “If God loves me so much how come…?” or “If God is love then why…?”
I look back over the many years since those campfire days and wonder how God can love me. All the sin I commit, all the years of hatred and anger toward Him, all the years of ignoring Him, the bad language, the un-forgiveness, the cruelty of words I have spoken. I am as filthy rags! I think about a rag that I pick up with the very tips of my fingers, holding it out at arms length while I race to the trash can and can barely stand the stench of it. Compared to Him, I am as that rag. How can God love something like that?
I may never know the answer but I do know one thing as absolute fact, He never gave up on me!
He knew when I was ready.
“…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Rev. 1:5
Blessing to you. 🙂