Jesus is Better than a Labradoodle
This is Blue. Blue is our labradoodle and my de facto therapy dog. Blue makes everything better. He loves me unconditionally, he’s always happy to see me, and just running my hands through his fluffy fur calms my nerves.
Sometimes I accidentally wake him up from a deep sleep, and when he sees me, his tail wags and thumps against the floor to signal, “I’m too sleepy to get up and say hello, but gosh, I am just thrilled that you are here.”
Friends, if you wake me up from a deep sleep, you will not receive this kind of greeting from me.
This is not to say that Blue is always easy to live with. Sometimes he unrolls our toilet paper and eats tissues out of the trash. When he throws up, he always finds the nearest rug on which to deposit this offering, ignoring the fact that our house is conveniently tiled in every room and that tile would be worlds easier to clean. Occasionally he wakes me up from a much needed nap with a slobbery toy and the delusional optimism that I would rather be playing fetch. He is not always easy.
Still, this dog is a comfort to me. Just knowing that he is laying at my feet is somehow reassuring. I am not alone, and I am loved. Even on my worst days – when I am cranky and selfish and I forget to feed him breakfast, this dog is happy to see me.
Don’t we all long for someone in our life who loves us like that? Someone who delights in our very existence regardless of how big we messed up? I do.
The good news is that you and I don’t need to have a toilet paper-eating labradoodle in order to experience that love. We have a Savior who loves and delights in us more than any four-legged friend ever will. Jesus knows every failure, every mistake, every bad mood, bad word, and bad decision you and I have ever experienced…and He loves us anyway.
If we haven’t read our Bible in months…He loves us anyway.
If we just had a parenting fail that makes us cringe…He loves us anyway.
If we’ve been relying on food, or alcohol, or shopping instead of Him…He loves us anyway.
His love is unconditional. And he wants us to know this love.
In Ephesians 3, Paul shares his prayer for the Ephesians:
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge."
It’s a beautiful prayer. But it’s a little confusing – how am I supposed to know something that surpasses knowledge? I've come to two conclusions:
1. The love of Christ is so big that we will never be able to fully comprehend it.
2. Paul wants us to not just know Jesus’ love, but to experience it.
The first one I can wrap my brain around, but what about that second one? How do we experience the love of Christ?
I suppose this answer might be different for each person, but here are two that I have found to be consistent for me:
I experience the love of Christ through the body of Christ.
Have you ever been in the muck of a terrible day when a friend called or texted you to say that they were praying for you? Maybe they even felt silly reaching out, but they just felt like God had put you on their mind? Followers of Christ are His ambassadors, loving one another in tangible ways and reminding one another of His love for them. We can experience the love of Christ through one another (and, of course, through labradoodles).
I experience the love of Christ through emotional encounters with him.
This one is going to get some people riled up. Some of us are awfully suspicious of emotions and view them as the enemy of a rational and reasonable life. Yet here we are…made in the image of God and literally designed to have emotions! And while our emotions can certainly lead us astray (just as our thoughts can), they can also help us connect to God in profound ways.
Have you ever read a Scripture or heard a song and suddenly a lump appeared in your throat and your spine tingled because you knew that it was delivering a truth to you that you needed and the thrill of it just moved you? That is an experience of the love of Christ and it is a gift from Him! Let’s embrace those moments as opportunities to experience His love on this side of heaven.
Some of us find it easier to accept the love of a labradoodle than the love of our Savior. Fear and shame can build walls around our hearts that make knowing the love of Christ seem impossible. But God’s grace has no limits and He will use all sorts of creative ways to demonstrate His love for us.
Pay attention this week and look for God’s love for you. How do you know it?
Loved beyond measure,
P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts; how do you experience the love of Christ? Comment below!