Lord, you showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave your people’s guilt;
you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your fury;
you turned from your burning anger.
Return to us, God of our salvation,
and abandon your displeasure with us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger for all generations?
Will you not revive us again
so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your faithful love, Lord,
and give us your salvation.
Psalm 85:1-7 (CSB)
“How many times have I told you?”
“Why should I believe you when you’ve said the same thing before?”
“Don’t you remember how nice I was to you today? And then you do this?”
“I’m done! I mean it. This is it. I can’t take anymore.”
I’ve said these words. I’ve said them so many times I couldn’t begin to keep track of their frequency, much less their effectiveness. For all their use, you might assume they must do the job. Those searing sentences must cut their recipients to the quick, poking them right in the conscience, right in the deepest part of their hearts. Clearly my word-arrows strike their targets and initiate repentance and change.
Right? Not so much.
Over the past few years, I’ve realized that I am guilty of loving conditionally. As my daughters have grown older and my marriage has grown stronger, I’ve been forced to face some of the challenges I bring to my most dear relationships — and one of the biggest is the ball of strings I have tied to my love.
Perhaps you’ve struggled with this, too. Maybe you also want every advantage of God’s unconditional love but are reluctant to offer that same gift to others. That realization stings, doesn’t it?
Looking in the mirror is hard, friend. It’s hard when our jeans are tight or our face breaks out, and it’s hard when our sinful nature slips through the cracks. It’s hard when we see the expectations we place on people we call beloved, when we see the score sheet we keep against the very people on our team, and it’s hard when we realize how far short our love falls from the love our Father gives us so freely.
In Psalm 85, the author is begging God for forgiveness, for another chance, for one more redemption story. He’s remembering all the times God has forgiven His people completely, and he’s believing that God will do it once again. And He will. He promises that. Our God is faithful, just as the psalmist says. He will forgive us every time because all our sins have already been paid for by Jesus. No more debt to pay. And no matter what, He will love us with an unfailing love. No strings attached.
As we journey to the cross together, I am overwhelmingly thankful for God’s faithful love and the example He gives us in loving unconditionally. When I read through the Old Testament and into the Psalms, I can’t help shake my head at the Israelites. Those fickle, faithless Israelites . . . who . . . just might have more in common with me than I want to admit. Yet, because of Christ, God never shakes His head at me. He never shouts in exasperation, “How many times have I told you?” And He never, ever says, “I’m done.” Let us thank God for His faithful love — and ask Him to teach us to love faithfully too.
Dear God, thank You for loving so much better than I do. Thank You for being faithful to offer me grace and forgiveness, to love me unconditionally even when I don’t deserve it. Please help me love others the same way, Lord. Help me be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Help me see with Your eyes and love with Your love, no strings attached. Thank You, God. I love You. Amen.
Excerpt from Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter by Mary Carver.
How can we pray for you?
Perhaps God is bringing to mind the ways you’ve been conditional with your love or forgiveness. Let’s bring our honest selves before God and ask for help and grace as we learn to love others and ourselves better. Share a prayer or prayer request below, and then pray for the person who commented before you.Leave a Comment