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

Forgiveness

One of the most important character traits that a human being can have is dependability. Yes, human beings are fallen and broken and defective creatures. And no human will ever be able to attain anything resembling perfection or one hundred percent trustworthiness on this earth. The future is always uncertain and impossible to predict. The world will throw things at you that you don’t think you can handle.

And yet you know somewhere deep-down that you can. That God never gives His people anything more than what they can handle as long as they continue to put their trust in Him.

I’m thankful for people in my life. I’m thankful for people being unpredictable and fun and interesting and mysterious and different and new and weird.

But that doesn’t make it any less disappointing when a mind changes, a heart freezes, plans shift and twist, or responsibilities fall away in the wake of personal interest or uncertainty.

I could go on, positively or negatively, but it’s late and my eyes struggle to keep me looking or feeling awake when it gets late these days. So I’ll leave on this note.

If you’ve ever disappointed me, I forgive and have forgiven you. I love the broken because I too am broken, and yet I am loved with a Love so gracious and merciful as to fall on me, a sinner and the chief of sinners. I’ve disappointed people before. I’m no perfect individual, and I’m as hypocritical as the next fallen human being. But, in my mind, forgiving has never meant forgetting. Forgetting is naive, and forgetting contains no justice at all.

Maybe you’re struggling with forgiveness. Maybe you’re on the verge of being disappointed by someone or something, bad news or a bad score. Maybe you, too, could use the devotional of Psalm 51, a Prayer for Forgiveness:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  2  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  3  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest […]  7  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. […]  9  Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.  10  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me…

In the word of the psalmist in other passages, selah. Think on these things.

Ashley Huizinga