Embracing the Unconditional Love of God
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt
“We love because He first loved us.”
—1 John 4:19 (NIV)
As the calendar turned to February my sigh was audible.
It was the first February after my divorce, and for all intents and purposes, Valentine's month had snuck up on me. Valentine's Day was never one of my favorite holidays to begin with. But after my marriage had crumbled around me, it was really the last holiday I wanted to be reminded of. My capacity to love and to be loved seemed to have been dismantled as divorce papers were signed. After two failed marriages, I found myself taking an honest look in the mirror and whispering—really whimpering—to God, “Point out any offensive way in me.” His answer came in the still, small voice that simply stated, “Cease striving.”
Even though I had been a Christian for many years, I came to realize I was still a baby drinking spiritual milk when it came to an understanding of God's love for myself and others. I felt like I was always trying to balance a scale between “He loves me” and “He loves me not”. Unfortunately, the scale always seemed to be teetering toward the “He loves me not” direction.
I would “perform” for Him and wait for His applause and approval. Was He pleased that I lead the small group Bible study? Would He be happy that I served on the prayer team? Would I earn a reward for sharing my faith with a friend? It was stressful and it was exhausting. And it certainly was not Biblical. I decided to venture out on a journey of searching the scriptures for all God said about love and pleading with God to help me truly understand what they all meant, so I could treasure them in my heart and cease striving once and for all.
God is love. So it goes without saying that His Word (The Holy Bible) has a lot to say about love.
As I searched and studied His Word, praying for God to remove the scales from my eyes, He tenderly led me into many truths about love and, sadly, many lies I was believing about His love. What I discovered was I needed to truly experience God’s love before I could ever hope to love and be loved properly. Without allowing myself to be loved by God, I would never be able to fully love Him or others. I had turned receiving God's love into a competition I was constantly performing to earn. But God loves me just because He loves me. Not because of any awesome things I do or spectacular things I say. His desire is to completely overwhelm me with His love. My job is to simply receive it. It sounded simple, yet my mind had an easier time wrapping itself around that concept of work leading to reward.
Over the next few weeks my prayer became simple. I prayed, “Lord, help me understand and receive Your love.” When I felt myself slip onto the performance path, which happened far more often than I realized, I pulled back and pressed into His presence. I sat still before Him until I felt His peace and became immersed in His love. I began to become acquainted with what it felt like to just be loved without seeking to earn it.
Receiving God’s love was freeing and fulfilling. I came to experience Him in a deeper, more intimate and fully authentic way. I brought Him all the broken pieces of me and He stitched them together with His unfailing love. I ceased striving, sat still before Him and He stirred a desire deep in my soul to simply receive His love.
In doing so, I discovered God’s love leads to a multitude of other qualities, all rooted in an understanding and experience of His unconditional love. His love empowers and establishes. His love drives out fear and fuels faith. His love kills comparison and cultivates compassion. His love demolishes doubts and ignites delight. His love is extravagant and eternal, doesn’t need to be earned and is for everyone.
He showed me that love never stops loving and as He continues to pour it in, I can allow it to flow out to those around me and the reservoir only grows larger.
Let’s Pray: Loving Lord, thank you for the way you love us and the example you set for us in loving others. Help us to willingly receive your love, be filled with your love and fully experience your love. Let us be a vessel that allows your love to pour into us, freely flow through us and spill over into the world around us. May those who we have an opportunity to meet and mingle with experience your love through us, giving them a desire to know You as the source of love and Savior of their souls. We ask this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Note from Alexis: Cyndi’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “Your Love Never Fails”, performed by Chris Quilala / Jesus Culture. Listen to it here.
Cyndi Staudt is a Jesus-loving, adrenaline junkie who is devoted to living her life for Jesus Christ until the day she is living with Him.
With a passion for cultivating a craving for God’s Word, her devotions and Bible studies are saturated with faith and hope to stir your soul to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways.
Through her writing she hopes to ignite your desire to read God’s Word, invite your heart to experience God’s love, and inspire you to live your live life “souled out” to the One whose love has no limits.
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