Some of us have a difficult time accepting the reality that God loves us unconditionally. Often, because of traumatic experiences in our childhoods or our more recent pasts, we have a hard time imagining that anyone—God included— could possibly value us. We ask ourselves, Why should God want to be with me? Just look at how messed up I am. Or we may think, I haven’t been able to rely on anyone in my life. At one time or another, they’ve all let me down. Why would God be any different?
The sad truth is that when we say these types of things to ourselves, we’re right. We are messed up. And at one time or another, every human relationship we’ve ever had has let us down. I love my wife more than I love any other human being currently on the planet. I am committed to her welfare with every fiber of my being. She is part of me, and I can’t imagine my life without her. But despite all of that, she has let me down. And guess what? I’ve done the same to her. At times I’ve brought her great joy, but I’ve also been the one to bring her great pain.
I love my boys. I would lie down in front of a moving train to keep them safe. I have no greater joy than to see them doing well, but they don’t always do what I want them to. Sometimes, they even do and say things that hurt me. And as hard as I try to avoid it, sometimes I’m not a perfect dad. I don’t always act in their best interest.
The fact is every relationship you have with a human being, no matter how committed and well-intentioned, is flawed. Sometimes you let them down; sometimes they let you down. And what that means is that, over time, we learn to hold back in our relationships, out of self-defense. We know that, at some point, we’re going to hurt or be hurt, so we try to protect ourselves by keeping a little something in reserve, by not committing 100 percent at every moment. And then we project that same behavior onto our relationship with God.
Our human experience makes it exceedingly difficult to believe that God is 100 percent faithful, that He will never let us down. We cannot ever wrap our minds completely around His unconditional, everlasting, indestructible love for us. God is forever standing with open arms, waiting to receive us, but we find it hard to fully embrace Him. And yet that is exactly what we must do.