Editor’s note: This month’s devotion is slightly adapted from the Ministry Message that accompanies one of CTA’s newest women’s ministry themes, Woman of God®: Living Loved. The gifts and resources from this theme focus on Jeremiah 31:3 (KJV): I have loved thee with an everlasting love. Use this devotion at your Mother’s Day celebration or women’s retreat!
Woman of God®: Living Loved
In October 2000, a scientific journal published a paper featuring Ninio’s Extinction Illusion. It’s based on a relatively simple drawing - a grid featuring a number of intersecting grey lines on a white background. Once you set your eyes on the grid, the illusion hits. It appears that there are a few tiny black dots bouncing around the intersecting lines.
There are, in fact, twelve black dots and no one’s eyes are capable of seeing them all at once. Science provides this explanation: We always see the black dot that’s at the center of our vision. However, the other dots are inconsistent because of our weak peripheral vision. Our brain is trying to process what we see off to the side, but it’s doing a poor job. So, it fills in what it thinks we should be seeing - the pattern of the grid.
We see what our brain tells us to see. In the case of optical illusions, this creates a briefly amusing visual trick. But, on a much larger scale, life is full of misperceptions and deceptions, too. Is what we see and feel real . . . or not?
God’s love for us is no illusion. The Bible tells us, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). And he showed this love from the very beginning, from the moment of creation. He breathed his very own breath into Adam and created a perfect Paradise for his children. He saved Noah and his family from the great flood. He delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. He protected David in a battle with the giant and blessed King Solomon beyond his wildest dreams. Throughout the Old Testament, our Lord shows his steadfast love and compassion for his children.
But, there is more to every one of these stories. Despite God’s love for his people, sin always had a way of getting in the way. The people in these stories thought that they could run their lives better than God could. They fell into the illusion that by disobeying God or ignoring him, they would actually improve their lives. Eventually, we see selfishness, drunkenness, adultery, and a host of other sins drive each of them to the brink of disaster. And we see some of the Bible’s characters, unrepentant to the end, plunging over that brink into destruction.
Yet, even amidst the most egregious sins, God had a plan - a plan by which his love would triumph. He assured his people in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” When God sent his own Son, Jesus, into the world, he showed us the full extent of his love. Jesus defeated sin once and for all. Nothing then and nothing now can ever destroy God’s great love for us in Jesus.
If we look closely, our lives today are remarkably similar to those of Adam, Eve, David, and other biblical figures. Our circumstances differ, but our inclination to rebel remains much the same as theirs. God wants to lead us with love and wisdom, but sin keeps getting in the way. (Read Proverbs 5:21–23.)
We work tirelessly to create the illusion of a perfect life, a life on our terms. Maybe to you that means two children, a high-powered job, a big house in the suburbs. To another person, it might mean having a simple life in the country or simply getting a job - any job - that pays something! We know that it’s not wrong to have dreams or goals in life, but often it’s the way we go about it that causes trouble. Do you ever think about what you’re neglecting as you walk according to your own wisdom? Have you considered that you may be wearing self-imposed blinders and missing the blessings that God has in store for you - or has already given you? You may be putting money, notoriety, fancy vacations, or other distractions in place of the path God has chosen for you.
Even if you achieve the life that you think is best, what happens when something goes awry? Do you act out in selfish anger? Are you quick to blame God for not answering your prayers in the exact way you asked? We are all guilty of sins like these.
Praise God that we can turn to his Word and bust the illusions that sin has created in our lives. We are loved! We are saved! We are alive in Jesus! Our sins don’t win - Jesus does.
He hung upon the cross for us so that we could rest assured in God’s love: I have loved thee with an everlasting love. It’s a personal love. It’s a measureless love that impacts every facet of your life. It’s a limitless love that will last for all eternity. It’s a boundless love that you can share with others.
Sin is very real and Satan’s temptations, tricks, and lies will continue to attack you. But know that Jesus’ love is stronger than any sin, any failure. His death and resurrection prove it. His everlasting love is always at work in your life. Take heart as you live loved!
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