God’s love is like the ocean

God's love is like the ocean

God’s love is like the ocean

This week between Christmas and New Year’s I am spending with my husband at the beach.  We scrimped and saved to be able to make another trip this year and it’s been months since we had even a date night together.  We cherish this time together since we’ve only been married two years and so much of our time is spent taking care of baby Rachel.

I love this time with Joe and I love this time at the beach.  The ocean is my spirit animal.  There is something about the beach, the sand between my toes, the pace slows down and I can breathe and dream with my husband.  It does an amazing miraculous thing in my soul and allows me to relax.  Looking out over the vast limitless horizon of the ocean I remember that there is something and someone larger than me.  God’s love is like the ocean.  His overwhelming love and grace are bigger than anything I can dream up or manufacture for my life.  It allows me to breathe.  I breathe in His grace and breathe out my disappointments for this year.

breathing in and out like the waves
Breathing in and out like the waves

Filling the “God hole”

I think of this because I spent so many years trying to fill the emptiness within myself.  A good friend of mine used to call this the “God hole”.  You can’t fill your “God hole” with drugs, alcohol, relationships, or any earthly pleasure.  I tried.  It only led me to more emptiness and more need.  An all consuming ache that I didn’t realize was the ache and need for God.  It turns out the only thing that fills that “God hole” is God.

I remember vividly one of these times of ache when I lived in Charleston, SC.  I was a mess and was drinking too much trying to numb all kinds of pain.  Caught up in a dangerous relationship that I needed to get out of but couldn’t afford to support myself.  A family member was struggling and I was trying to help them while I was drowning.  A drowning person can’t save another drowning person.

God gives us reminders

I went for a run on Folly beach down to the lighthouse to clear my mind.  There were dolphins jumping through the waves and they were going along the shore with me!  I was at a turning point in my life and had to make some serious decisions.  God showed up for me and reminded me that He was there.  Even though I was making some really bad choices that were hurting me God hadn’t let go of me.  I decided to leave the relationship at that point and unfortunately continued to make even worse choices for a few years.  Even in my lowest of lows when God was so far from my heart and my mind, He would send me these little reminders:  “God is like the ocean”.

Reminder
Reminder

I had an old friend from that time recently tell me that they are glad I found love, referring to my husband.  It’s funny because I did find love but it wasn’t my husband’s love that transformed me, it was God’s love.  God’s love is what allowed me to let my husband’s love in and accept it and allowed me to love him back.  I was not capable of giving or receiving true Godly love before I knew God’s love for me.  This isn’t to say I completely understand it because I don’t.  But I’ve experienced an inkling of it.

Human love versus Godly love

I believed I was in love many times before.  That old love was all consuming, it felt needy and full of excitement at times.  At other times it destroyed me from the inside out.  There were aspects of control and emotional manipulation and I felt I would die without that other person.  Areas of brokenness within myself needed healing before I could have healthy love.  The enemy lied to me about who I was.  The lie was that no one could really love me.  That’s what the enemy does.  He kills, steals, and destroys.  When I talk about the enemy it’s because I’ve fought him.  I’ve had to kick him out of my life to experience any joy and any love.  I don’t want to focus on the enemy but I want to tell the truth about him.

The lie is that I wasn’t good enough to find true love.  No one could love me.  Once I kicked out the lie of rejection, I was able to begin really feeling and giving love.  I could remember that God’s love is like the ocean.  That’s the truth.  I am one in a million and I am beautiful.

One in a million
One in a million

Applying love to my life

Something beautiful a pastor once taught me is to take the 1 Corinthians 13 verses about love and apply it to a person to find out if it’s real love.  The kind of love that you want to marry.  Here is the verse: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV)

I still grapple with what love really looks like and feels like.  For so many years, love was a feeling and it was dependent on how someone else treated me.  I applied these verses to Joe before we got engaged trying to understand the difference between what I thought was love before and what I know God’s love to be like now.  So you take whoever you are in a relationship with and ask yourself if they are walking in love toward you and if you are walking in love toward yourself and toward them.  I like to test myself with these verses as well.

The love test

For example:  Amy is patient.  Amy is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast.  She is not proud and does not dishonor others.  Amy is not self-seeking and not easily angered.  She keeps no record of wrongs.  She does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  Amy always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

Typing that out makes me cringe a little.  I know there are times I am not patient and I am not kind.  I have not always had hope and definitely not trust.  This isn’t meant to condemn me though, it’s meant to show me what love really looks like.  It’s meant to show me areas that I can work on and areas that maybe the enemy has lied to me about.  It can bring me closer to God’s love if I allow it to.

Nobody is perfect and let’s be honest when real life comes along with sickness and financial stress or just day to day life it’s hard to do this much less feel it.  I’m not saying we have to walk in perfect love every second.  These verses can show us where there is pain that needs to be healed.  It can show us the difference between real love and the type of love the world says we are supposed to have.  It can bridge the gap between feelings and faith.

Transformational love

In the New Year, I want to love better.  God clearly tells us that love is the greatest gift.  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)  The ocean reminds me of God’s all encompassing love for me and how small I really am.  As I spend this time with the man who won my heart, I am reminded again how blessed I am to have him but also how blessed I am that I truly know God’s love for me.

I just want to encourage anyone who had a hard year like we did.  There were ups and downs and times we thought we wouldn’t make it through, especially with a toddler.  Beyond and above our struggles and even through our struggles, God is loving us.  God so often wants to use those struggles to show us even more clearly His love for us.

I’ve spoken about not wanting to use scripture against anyone but to be clear, scripture is powerful.  It has transformed my life because it is the truth.  If we can apply this truth to our lives and keep it in front of us we can experience joy and peace in the struggles.  That’s what I’m working toward this year and what I want to encourage us all to work toward.

When we start to feel empty and needy, allow God to fill us up.  Turn to HIm.  That love can transform us and can help us to transform others.  Love changes the world.  In the words of Michael Jackson: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change”.

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