(Read the first part of this post here!)
Annalise opened her eyes and found Pastor Dan standing in front of the altar, on the floor of the sanctuary.
“I have a word from the Lord for you today, church. I don’t know who this is directed to, but someone needs to hear it.” He smiled, something so kind in it that Annalise had to look away.
“‘I love you,’ says the Lord. ‘I see you, and I know you, and I love you. Period. I know stuff about you that you don’t even think I know, and yet I love you. I know the things you’re hiding, and yet I love you. I love you so much that even what I know about you didn’t stop me from sending Jesus to the cross to save you. In fact, the very fact that you are suffering is why Jesus went to the cross. To redeem you. My love is not an equation, something you have to earn or barter for. I love you-I bless you even in the midst of your sin. Not to condone it, but to remind you of the glorious reunion that awaits when you come to Me. My blessings are to remind you of My great love and to turn you in to My arms. You cannot repay My love. Or My grace. You can only rejoice in it.’”
“This is my only sermon today. Do not let your circumstances define God’s love for you. He loves you. Period.”
Annalise couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move. Perhaps her heart had stopped. She prayed that Dan’s gaze wouldn’t fix on her because she might shatter into weeping in the pew.
Or rather, I might shatter into weeping. Because, not only was that exactly what my character needed to hear, but I needed to hear it, too.
See, I was overwhelmed. Not necessarily with the weight of my sin, like my character, but the weight of LIFE. And when that happens, life becomes an equation. God, if you love me, then lift this burden. Provide health, finances, a good job, blessings, and I promise to (you can fill in your blank[s] here). I needed reminding that no, God’s love isn’t an equation (which is a good thing, because I can guarantee that it would be my end that didn’t add up!).
In fact, I need to hear this pretty much every day. God loves me. Period. Regardless of my situation, my sins and the mistakes I make.
Maybe you need to hear it to, so here goes.
God loves you. There’s no condition on that. No, if only, no just do this. Just . . . He loves you.
Thanks, God, for showing up. And thanks, Pastor Dale, for listening to Him and sharing His word with us all.
I promise not to text in church.
If you want to read the entire story, check out You Don’t Know Me, my newest novel, now hitting the stands, about a woman who’s been in the witness security program for twenty years and hasn’t told a soul—not her husband, her children, her town. . . .
Which is sort of a bad thing when the man she put in prison breaks out and comes looking for her. Talk about overwhelmed! Yikes!
It was a fun, emotional, and blessed story to write. A story of Amazing Grace.
Thank you for your letters! I so appreciate you reading and sharing my books with your friends. Give this one to someone who is hurting, or feeling overwhelmed. I wrote it for them; I wrote it for us.