“I love you,” he said. And the first time he said it, I was so surprised. I had never seen myself as very lovable to anyone, so it was hard for me to believe that he told me this as we said goodnight at the dorm on the college campus where we met.
This man of such character and fewer words than many, said those same words to me this morning when he woke me up – “I love you.” I heard them before we went to sleep, and I could not count the number of times he has said them in more than 55 years of marriage and 57 years of knowing each other.
But he didn’t stop with the words. That first fall on campus he celebrated my nineteenth birthday by taking me to a play and sending a dozen red roses to me at my dorm. His acts of kindness and service would make an extremely long list, but he never stops saying the words that impacted me more than he could have guessed that first time.
Despite growing up in a Christian home and being in church throughout my years of growing up there, those words and their meaning somehow didn’t sink in or perhaps were not said very often to me (the one whose love languages are words of affirmation and quality time). There were evidences of my parents care for me, but perhaps what didn’t allow them to stick was that my Christian experience seemed more focused on information, behavior, performance, and obedience than a love relationship with the Lord.
You see, I don’t think hearing those words from anyone creates quite as much certainty as when we hear the Lord speak them to our heart and discover He wants a relationship with us.
Too many believers somehow miss that. It shows up in their prayer time when the words can sound like they are speaking to a distant being rather than a tender Father who longs to hear our hearts and share his with us as well.
Clearly God’s Word speaks of his love from Genesis to Revelation, but even then, we can miss it on a personal relational level. That is even truer if we don’t see the many other ways He speaks.
“Throughout Scripture God speaks through kings and queens, princes and prophets, poets and pilgrims. He speaks through weather patterns, barnyard animals, and even the stars in the sky. God is not only creative, but he is persistent in getting our attention and communicating with us.” Margaret Feinberg in The Sacred Echo
All of that is so true and the list can be even longer than Margaret lists in the quote, but why can those words “I love you” seem to be missed by so many. If they are not missed, too often they slip out of our attention as we get caught up “in the affairs of life” and all of the doing.
Perhaps those words are so powerful that the enemy of our souls would use anything in his arsenal to muffle them, distort them, or block them from our awareness. I think he knows that IF we really hear them and BELIEVE them, he will have a much harder time trying to rob the Lord of us.
“Why use sixty-six books and thousands of years of history to say three simple words? Because “I love you,” is not just a piece of information or one-time revelation but an invitation to transformation.” Margaret Feinberg in The Sacred Echo
It’s true that He loved us so much that He chose to come to earth and die for us on a brutal cross to demonstrate those words missed for so many years before through all the laws and sacrifices. He did it not only to save us, but because He wanted an unbroken relationship with us that was lost in Eden through the power of sin.
Our studies of the Bible are excellent and needed to learn more about Him, but too often we see these only as sources of information.
Information is good, but relationship is transformative.
All these ways to point to Him are not meant to be bytes of information to add to a hard drive, but an invitation to experience God’s love on a personal, relational level each moment of each day. He doesn’t want us to just know about, read about his love. He wants us to experience it even as my dear husband reminds me in numerous ways each day of our life together.
I experience God saying “I love you” when I sense it in a whisper as I sit after time in the Scripture or prayer. I experience it when He gently convicts me of an attitude or choice that does not reflect Him. Love includes correction because He wants the best for us.
When we read Scripture, we are reading stories, the grandest of stories, but our story is unfolding now in real time and experience. He wants us to experience/know intimate relationship and love that is no less personal than when my husband says those words – “I love you!”
Nothing is more powerful than God’s love for us. Little wonder that too often humankind is deceived and miss or doubt it.
No matter where you are or what is happening in your life today, the Lord wants you to hear those words, “I love you.”