T-shirt, New Car, and Publisher’s Clearing House

Is it biblical to want God to prove to me that he loves me?

I know God loves me.  At least, I believe he loves me.  So why is my heart seemingly unmoved by that reality sometimes?  It feels wrong to admit that hearing “God loves you,” does not always make me feel anything.

If I really know and believe God loves me, why do I want more?  Why am I longing for something else?  I think maybe I believe he loves me, but I don’t KNOW he loves me.  But I think he wants me to know.

He meant for his love to be personal.  He does not dole out his love like confetti on New Year’s Eve – falling from the sky landing a little bit on everyone.  More accurately, his love is doled out like a publisher’s clearing house prize.  He comes to your door and individually gives you the life-changing prize.

I have opened the door and accepted the prize, but there is still some wrestle.

Jesus has proven his love for US.  The publisher’s clearing house prize was that he sent his son to earth, and that prize is offered to every person who walks the planet.  Jesus walked the earth and showed us how to live.  He faced all the trials that we face and walked through them in total victory by remaining dependent on his Father.  When the time came, Jesus walked to the place that he would be executed.  He allowed people to treat him horribly and ultimately, he left the physical body that he had been in for 33 years by dying.  He died to satisfy the righteous wrath of God.  God has every right to be mad at all of us for the bad choices we have made.  Thankfully, instead of acting on this right, God sent a part of himself to earth to absorb the wrath that is due to us.

So God HAS proven his love for US.  Why is that not enough sometimes?  I think the difference comes with the words “us” and “me.”  If someone does something nice for a whole group of people, each person in that group is glad to be “in” and not “out.”  However, if that same nice thing happened for just one person, that would feel different.

There have been some TV shows (I’m thinking of Oprah) where a guest is invited to a show because they had some trial or difficulty in their life.  Oprah graciously gives the guest some extravagantly large gift, like a new car.  The person is overwhelmed with gratitude and joy.  They are shocked and astonished and beyond grateful.

Then, at the very end of the show Oprah says, and we want to take it a step further and give everyone in the audience today a new car, too!!!  The whole studio goes crazy!  Everyone is excited!  That first person is still excited, but if I am honest – if I was that first person – I would feel a little less special.  If I was not the only one receiving the gift, I think I might feel a little less special.

What is that?  Is that the only child syndrome?  (I am not an only child, but my brother and I grew up in separate houses)  Is it selfishness?  Is it a hunger for a deeper validation, a longing for a deeper need to be loved and thought much of?  Whatever it is, I am not proud of it, and I believe God wants to heal me here.

I love Zephaniah 3:17 because it feels so personal.

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

This isn’t God doing a dance over mankind.  This is the God of the Universe, taking a moment to specifically and personally sing and rejoice over me.  He is no longer angry with me.  He loves me, and he delights in ME – in YOU.

If the gift is extravagant enough, it is easy to overlook the fact that everyone is offered the same gift.  If Oprah offered me a new car, in the end, I would not care how special I felt, I would be beyond grateful for a new car.

If, however, Oprah singled me out and gave me a T-shirt in the audience, I would feel pretty special (and maybe a little uncomfortable) – even if the gift was not that amazing.  If, at the end of the show, everyone gets a T-shirt, I might still feel special for being singled out, but the T-shirt wouldn’t feel as incredible to have.  If it was a new car, it would be easier to feel special even if everyone else ended up with a new car.  The extravagance of the gift influences the effect.

Do you know God’s love for you in a T-shirt kind of way or a new car sort of way?  Do you revel in the depth of his love for you so much so that the fact that he loves every other person on the planet as much as you doesn’t make a difference because the gift is just that awesome?  I think we can wear our T-shirt, while cruising in our new car.  I believe God does want to personally delight in and dance over each one of us (T-shirt).  His love is personal.  It is not a broad-sweeping gesture.  He loves YOU deeply.  He loves ME deeply.  He loves all of mankind, but he loves each one individually.  And not all of mankind has had the opportunity to be in relationship with Him.  There are a whole lot of people on this planet that are still under the righteous wrath of God because they have not received the publisher’s clearing house gift of Jesus’ death on the cross.

I think we often forget about all of the extravagant (new car/publisher’s clearing house) and special gifts (T-shirt) He has given us.  I often feel guilty that what Jesus did on the cross does not feel like enough (because it is supposed to be enough, right?).  However, when I take time to remember and think about it, I realize that what Jesus did on the cross IS enough.  It is enough because it is the starting block for all other good things that flow into my life.  Without his blood shed on the cross, a relationship with God was impossible.  Through a relationship with God all things are possible.

It is good to reflect on the goodness of God that has flowed into my life since that first act of love that began a relationship.

What about the time he gave me just the strength I needed to endure that tough situation?  What about the sunset he woke me up to see because he knew it would stir my heart?  What about the songs that were playing in my head on consecutive days, like a puzzle he was carefully putting together to speak to me?  What about the mom he gave me who has taught me to process life well?  What about the house he hand-picked for my husband and I to live in?  What about the people God has brought into my life at exactly the right time?  What about all of the adventures and opportunities I have been able to take part in?  What about the lessons God has taught me at exactly the right moment?

How easy it is to forget all of the small (and sometimes large) moments where God has shown his faithfulness and love.  I am always amazed when I read that God told the Israelites to stack up a large pile of stones on the bank of the river after they crossed the Jordan River on dry ground (Joshua 4).  God held back the waters and allowed them to walk through the land where the river normally flowed, while looking at a wall of water on their sides.  That is a pretty incredible and unforgettable experience.  Yet, he tells them to pile up a bunch of rocks so they don’t forget!  Really?  You think they would forget that?

Maybe that first generation of Israelites would never have a problem remembering their experience, but maybe they would forget to talk about it.  Maybe God knew that they would get so caught up with life that they would forget to think about and talk about how God rescued them that day.  He knew they would need the encouragement at a later date when they were in the thick of worry about a new situation.  God knew.

What are your memory stones.  Maybe it’s time to start stacking…

…and if you want to take it a step further, would you take 30 seconds to comment below about one of your stones?  God asked the Israelites to stack those stones as a memory for them AND for the future generations.  He meant for others to find encouragement from what God did for them.  Would you consider sharing one of your stones because you never know what encouragement it might bring to the others who happen upon this site?  Thanks for taking that extra time!

2 thoughts on “T-shirt, New Car, and Publisher’s Clearing House

  1. How do you know the word “you” in Zephaniah is not a plural “you all” you?

    It reminds me if the story in Matthew 20 with the workers in the vineyard.

    ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

    • That’s exactly it, J Mueller. The “you” in Zephaniah IS plural and personal. The point is that God’s love for “you all” is personal. Great connection to Matthew 20. Thanks for that insight.

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