Thursday, 23 February 2017

Things you already knew - by Helen Murray

God loves you.

You know that, don't you?  Of course you do; this is the ACW, after all. We are in the business of writing, yes, but more than that, we're Christians. At some point we've heard about and responded to God's love.

We probably know John 3:16 by heart:
' For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.'  
God loves you. He does. Jesus died to clear the way of sin and rubbish so that we could live in relationship with him, here on earth, and later on for eternity. He loved us so much that when things went badly wrong he organised a rescue plan to remove all obstacles between us. 

He wants us to be together. He enjoys spending time with us. He created us for his pleasure and he didn't want to lose us, even when we turned our back on him and told him we were not interested. 

You get that? Yes? 

So did I. I got it the day I became a Christian at an outdoor meeting on a hot day in June, years ago. I have held that knowledge in my heart ever since, somewhere. At times it's been right there at the surface of my consciousness and at other times deeply buried. Ignored; you might say taken for granted.

As a teenager I stuck 'Smile, God loves you!' stickers on my diaries. Things were easy then; black and white. I was right, other people were wrong. This was the way to live, not that way.  I knew what I wanted to do and be and was pretty sure how to get there.  Then I grew up.

Life is so complicated. Nothing is straightforward. Families and jobs and friendships and money and interpersonal relationships and emotions; they all require constant and energetic navigation on a daily basis, and that's without the occasional disaster, trauma or crisis. Somewhere in the hurry and confusion of living my life, I forgot what it meant to be loved by God. 

The words were still there, but the meaning had faded like the stickers on my journals. 

A few weeks ago, a minister at church gave a blessing my two daughters. One after the other, he placed a hand on their heads and said, 
'May you know, today, that your Father in heaven is absolutely bananas about you!' 
My younger daughter giggled a little and I smiled and hugged them to me, thinking, 'That's nice.'  
It's nice. The love of our heavenly Father is nice. Nice to have. He loves me? That's good, then. 

Here's the thing, though. I was reading the other day about the wonders and miracles that God is still performing here on earth, in our country, among ordinary people like you and me, and I suddenly got it. I had a glimpse of that love; the magnitude of it. The hugeness, the vastness, the unrelenting, amazing, not-giving-up unconditional, breathtaking enormity of it. 

God is love; he invented it. Nobody can love like him. My love, in all its forms, even the strongest fierceness of mother-love, my lioness's love for my cubs, is a pathetic faded thing in comparison with it. 

I have learned, in these last few days, after being a Christian for more than thirty years, some truths that until now I had not fully grasped:
  • There is nothing I have ever done, or can do, to earn God's love. 
  • I don't deserve it, but he covers me in it anyway.
  • I do not have to win his approval because I have it already, and I cannot lose it. 
  • I am utterly secure in his love. 
  • He is delighted with me, right now, right here, just as I am. 
I want you to understand that these are things that I already knew. I don't know what kind of analogy works for you; whether to say that these truths went from head-knowledge to heart-knowledge? Or that something suddenly slipped into place? The penny finally dropped? A divine revelation? 

It doesn't matter what I call it because it's personal and happened to me, and there's no way that I can prevent you from reading these bullet points and saying patiently, 'Yes, I know,' and moving on, wondering what's the big deal. But I think that maybe it's not to do with how long you've been a Christian, whether you're a newcomer to all this God stuff or a seasoned veteran church leader with a thousand hard-hitting sermons under your belt. I think perhaps the Holy Spirit can teach us all something new about the massive, awe-inspiring nature of God's love.

Over the years I have allowed lots of misconceptions and beliefs to climb into my mind and build comfy little nests right there on top of God-loves-me-that's-nice.  

I've known that God loves me, but suspected that in my less loveable moments, his love might falter a bit. That's understandable, isn't it? When I neglect him for days, weeks, months at a time, he might put me on one side to concentrate on his more deserving children. Yes, he always welcomes me back,  but maybe there's a period where he's a bit cool with me for having been so distant. Perhaps I should try harder to get back into his good books? 

Then there's this, a big one for me: somehow, I must find the purpose of my life. I must do the thing I am meant to do, or else God will be disappointed. He's given me gifts, talents, hopes, dreams that must not be wasted. I must try, strive, achieve. And time is slipping away. 

As a would-be writer, these uneasy suspicions have found particularly fertile ground. I watch with awe and admiration as people I know write wonderful things and find meaning and success in all senses of the word; completed novels, readers, publishing contracts, book reviews, validation that they are good at something. I have asked God repeatedly, 'What am I for?' 'What do you want me to do?' and until now, I haven't had a clear answer. 

I've spent my life trying so hard to win approval: fulfil my potential, get it right, make it perfect, and yet here is... rest. 

It's come as an enormous relief. I am loved, perfectly, and for always. Can you believe it? 
There is nothing I can do to earn it, or pay him back for what is a totally undeserved gift. 

I am loved. 

God loves me. 

God loves me.

God loves me.

I am not merely tolerated, or loved as long as I behave a certain way, live up to expectations, perform adequately. I am loved, full stop. Enough. 

If I die this afternoon, with every last one of my plans undone, my Great and Magnificent Work not completed, he will welcome me just the same. He will be waiting with the robe and the ring and the celebration feast and he will pull me to his heart and hold me tight as his precious, dearly loved daughter. All this, whether I write bestsellers or the occasional blog post or nothing at all. 

It is done. It is complete. I am accepted just as I am and loved in a way I cannot possibly fathom by the Creator of the universe, Almighty God, my heavenly Father. He's bananas about me. 

You too. 

Do you know about God's love? Not just the 'God loves me - that's nice,' kind of love, but the size of it?  The reality of it?  

If not, ask him to show you. And then actually wait for him to answer, because I think he really wants you to know.

'May you know, today, that your Father in heaven is absolutely bananas about you!' 

I am praying for you. 

Banana image courtesy of the School Photo Project. The ones in my fruit bowl were less than photogenic.
For free stock images of fruit and much more, click here.

Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

Having spent time as a researcher, church worker and Hand Therapist, Helen is now a full time mum and writer, currently supposed to be working on her first novel. Or at least working on something.

As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims, breeds Aloe Vera plants and collects ceramic penguins.

Helen has two blogs: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith, and Badger on the Roof where readers are treated to a blow by blow account of her novel-writing progress, or lack thereof. It's been a while since there was anything to report, but she hasn't given up.

Check back when the kids have left home. 

You can also find her here:

Pinterest: @HelenMMurray
Twitter: @helenmurray01


  1. WHOOP!!!!! He loves me! Thank you Helen. Oh magnificent truth :) :)

  2. A wonderful way to start (and end) the day. Thank you, Helen!

    1. You're most welcome. Glad it hit the spot. :-)

  3. What a great post!May that deep-down experience of God's love be ours today❤️ Thank you so much Helen x

    1. Thanks Deborah. :-) Amen to that!