Everlasting Love

I have this picture in my house; it was given to me by my mom because it is a painting of horses with Jeremiah 31:3 written on it: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” It is a beautiful picture with a beautiful verse, and it has provoked a lot of thought over the last few years that I’ve been looking at it. I’ll tell you why.

Working with horses over the years, I’ve learned to accurately read their body language. One of the horses in the picture is displaying interest, attention, and care toward the other horse. His ears are up; head held high, eyes are bright! Everlasting love, right? Just like the verse written below it says!

The other horse in the picture, however, isn’t quite on the same page. He is quartered away from his companion. His ears are pinned back, head lowered and eyes diverted. He is displaying annoyance, anger, and maybe even disgust. This is why I’ve spent so much time staring at this picture over the years. Why put a verse about the everlasting love of God below a painting that seems contradictory to that verse?

At first, I thought maybe the artist was just naïve, and probably didn’t know a thing about horses, putting a verse like that on such a picture. I don’t know the author, but the more time I spend looking at the picture, the more I think the artist knew what she was doing. After all, with some contemplation, the verse makes perfect sense in that context!

Everlasting love is an easy concept when we think of loving our friends, or when we think of God loving us while we sing in church, pray, or study His word. Even though we know our sin, that everlasting love is warm and fuzzy, and easy to see, but what about when we pin our ears? The moments (and they are constant) that we turn away from God, show Him annoyance, anger and even disgust at His will for us are the moments where the everlasting love of God is most amazing. Realistically, each moment of our lives is a “pin our ears” moment, whether we realize it or not.

So, what if this artist knew what she was doing? Maybe this picture is more than a pretty painting and a beautiful verse. Maybe the artist is saying something about this everlasting love. Even when we don’t show love to our God, even though we quarter away and pin our ears, His everlasting love holds us. He doesn’t stop and leave us alone in our misery. He continues to love us because that love is everlasting!

Let’s spend each day not only trying to reciprocate that love, but thankful for each moment that we reject and try to run from God that He draws us in with lovingkindness time and time again. No matter how many times we pin our ears and turn our heads, His love is unconditional and everlasting, and gently leads us back to Him. Recognize the moments in life that you pin your ears at God, or at friends and loved ones, and apologize to them and to God for those moments of annoyance, anger and disgust. Pray that He will show you also to love with everlasting love!

Suzie Altena

If you’d like to view the painting in reference by Jennifer Pugh, please click here.

Precious in God’s Eyes

Everyone wants to feel wanted and loved. No one likes the feeling that they are worthless and unwanted. Yet at one point or another in your life, you will probably struggle with those feelings to some degree or another. And when you do, where will you look for comfort? The worldly individual will search himself for personal qualities that he thinks make him him valuable to society and full of worth in himself. But if, when plagued with feelings of doubt and despair, you try to find something good in yourself, you will come up short and void of consolation. Instead, turn to the ever-comforting Word of God, for there your heavenly Father provides all the comfort you need. There are many examples of God’s love for His elect people that can be found in the Bible, but I would like to look at a few in particular that really illustrate how precious God’s children are to Him.

If you are struggling with your sense of worth, simply consider the fact that God calls you His child. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (I John 3:1). God cares for those who fear and trust Him as a loving father would for his precious children. God loves His elect so much that He provided the way for them to become His adopted sons and daughters through their older brother and Lord, Jesus Christ. This is the only basis you and I truly have to be assured of our value. Without this knowledge, there would be no reason to believe there is any worth in ourselves at all and to do so would be vain and proud. You are a redeemed child of God, and He loves you as such. You have worth!

Another passages that serves as a comforting reminder to all of God’s children is Zechariah 2:8: “For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” God calls His chosen people the apple of his eye! The phrase “apple of the eye” refers to the center of the eye – the iris – which is one of the most protected parts of the human body. Think of how protective you are of your eyes, how you reflectively blink and shield your face to prevent anything from damaging your eyes. Think of how much you depend on your eyes, how even an irritated or dry eye can leave you unable to carry on with your daily activities. Think of how precious your eyes and the gift of sight are to you. That is the picture God is painting for His people. You are the apple of His eye, and He will protect you as His most treasured possession. That’s how precious you are to Him.

Another very comforting passage for God’s children is Matthew 10: 29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” If you are tempted to believe that you are noticed by no one of importance, this proves otherwise. Whether or not they are consciously aware of it, God is always watching and caring for His people. He holds you, his precious child, in the palm of His hand so that not so much as a hair can fall out of your head without His knowledge and will. How comforting!

Everyone wants to feel valuable, and many seek to find their worth in themselves. They try to find some good virtues in themselves that give them worth. But the only way you can truly find worth is as you view yourself as a beloved child of God through Jesus Christ. Then you possess the comfort that you are loved and treasured by the Almighty Jehovah God of heaven and earth. You are the apple of His eye. You are the object of His constant care and protection. You are His precious child. What more could you need?

Anna Langerak

Though Foaming Waters Roar

I recently had the opportunity to go white-water rafting on a river in West Virginia. While riding through the roaring rapids of the river, I could not help but be struck by the power of the water. Sitting at the front of my raft, I met the huge, rolling waves head-on as they towered and crashed over me. All around me, foamy water swirled as the powerful current rushed dangerously. This experience brought to mind many Scripture passages about the power of the water and seas and prompted me to ponder the awesome power of the One of Whom it is said that, “the sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:5). God “rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, [He] stillest them” (Psalm 89:9).

Psalm 107:23-31 describes the experience of those “that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters” and encounter the power of the stormy seas much as I was reminded of it a few weeks ago. When they “see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep,” who “commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof,” the magnitude and strength of the waves is enough to strike fear in the hearts of seasoned sailors: “They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. But when they acknowledge the One who created this great power and “cry unto the Lord in their trouble, he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.”

“Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:31).

Not only should we see the power of God in the strength of the seas and be prompted to praise Him as the great Creator, but this truth contains a great comfort for the child of God. Not only has He created the stormy seas and given the swirling current its power, but He controls its seemingly uncontrollable depths. He has “placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof… roar, yet can they not pass over it” (Jeremiah 5:22). His is the voice “that even the winds and the sea obey” (Matthew 8:27). He is “the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared” (Isaiah 51: 15). That same sovereign God is our Father. We are His precious children, and He has promised to control all things for our good.

This is especially comforting when we encounter the storms of life. Often fears and troubles swirl about us like a foaming current, threatening to pull us under into the depths of despair, never to return to the surface. We can flail about with all our strength, trying to fight the waves and save ourselves, but we will find that we are weak and helpless. But when we cry to God, He will save us. His alone is the power to bring us through such trials and calm the stormy seas. He has the power to dry up the entire sea so we are once again standing on dry ground, or He may choose to part the waters and lead us through with towering walls of water looming over us. And sometimes it is His good pleasure to allow us to struggle in the storm for a time, but He will always be there, holding us up with His almighty hand, never permitting us to drown.

So whenever you are experiencing the stormy seas of life and you are tempted to despair, turn to the One who has placed those trials in your life. He alone is the Rock to whom you can turn. He is your refuge and strength.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof… The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:1-3,7).

Anna Langerak