Life sometimes is wrapped in a pretty package; my life seems to be perfectly wrapped. I have a beautiful family, a warm home, food on my table, more clothes than I will ever need, an extended family I adore, a wonderful church family, awesome friends, and live in the best community in NC.
Things are perfect, I am healthy, my family is healthy, we go and do, we work hard, and play enthusiastically.
Yes, we have had hardships and disappointments but when looking at my life compared to others, it’s great. I am not saying this to brag but to make a point. I dislike those people, who say their husband is great, their kids are perfect, and everything is rainbows and Ferrari’s, Social Media is great at making this lie truth.
Sometimes we seem to have it all, and it’s perfect. Sometimes you can be surrounded by all of the above and still are alone, sad, ashamed and unfulfilled. There are those of you whose life is hard or maybe your life isn’t this pretty package and you are rolling your eyes or probably you want to stop reading this (to be honest, I would have and said blah, blah, blah as I moved on), but if you haven’t please hear me out.
I know I sound like a brat who is very ungrateful and maybe this is true, but the God I serve reminds me of a great truth. Sometimes a person whose life is in a pretty package forgets the greatness of a big God who can do all things!
You see, when we have it all in this pretty package, we don’t allow God to be seen.
God has allowed me to experience great hurt. Hurt that is so real that it has taken my breath at times; it has broken my heart and destroyed my security. God took my ideal of a pretty little package and opened it, tore the box, shredded the wrapping, so it is to never be re-wrapped. And what I saw is that there’s nothing there. It’s an empty box. It was designed to make me feel safe, feel loved, accomplished, wanted, and important and have false hope.
I want to believe that there are many out there who like me “have it all” and still are empty. People just like me who are seeking anything to make them feel loved, wanted, important, and needed, who are relying on false hope to lead to anything to fill the emptiness. I sat, crying and praying to God to take my hurt away, to take my pain, to restore my package, to heal my broken heart, to not allow me to feel the emptiness.
And God asked me the same question he asked Peter in John 21:15, Amy, do you truly love me more than these? Do you love me more than your package?I responded the same as Peter, “Yes Lord, you know I love you!” And I began to list all the reasons and ways I love Him. God, I gave you my heart!
In John 21:15-16, Jesus says to Peter, “Feed my lambs.” And God says the same to me, “Feed my lambs.” It’s one thing to say I love Jesus and another to serve Him. I haven’t sacrificed or given up anything to serve Jesus. There’s no real love without sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed His life for me. What have I sacrificed?
Verse 16, again, Jesus, asked, “Peter, do you truly love me?” Again, Peter answers, Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus is asking Peter to commit his life, to continue to stand firm in the faith, and trust Him. Jesus is asking me, “to sacrifice my package.” To willing give up what I think to be truth and replace it with the truth of Christ.Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” He is saying to Peter and me, “tell others.” Tell them I am worth the sacrifice of your package. And I can give you so much more.The third time Jesus says to Peter, “Do you love me?”Peter was hurt, and said “Lord, you know all things; you know I love you.” Peter realizes only Jesus can love us completely, that we don’t even know what love is without Him. Peter’s life changed when he realized who he was and who Jesus is. I, too, cried out, and ask Jesus to forgive me, to show me how to love, to give me the courage to hand over my package and trust Him with my broken heart.
The first two times, Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him in agape love (Greek agape: volitional, sacrificial love) but the last time he ask in phileo love (Greek phileo: signifying affection, affinity, or brotherly love). In effect, Jesus is asking, “Are you even my friend?” “Do you love me?” Each time Peter answers in phileo love.* Each time I can only answer the same, it’s the only love I know, affection or brotherly love. But Jesus…He knows agape love, sacrificial love and that’s how he loves me and each of you, sacrificial. Jesus was getting real with Peter, and He is getting real with me.
Amy, do you truly love me more than your package? Amy, do you truly love me? Amy, are you even my friend? Do you love me?
My package will never love me like Jesus, no one will ever love me like Jesus, and no one loves you like Jesus. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.” I cannot find my happiness in another’s love for me. My happiness, my joy comes from Christ.
He says, “Remain in my love…so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11)
My security & my safety only come from Christ. It comes from knowing that He has me in the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16) and as in Hebrews 13:6, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, and what can man do to me?” I am only secure & safe in Him.I am only important to Christ. Christ says, “You did not choose me, I have chosen you and appointed you to go and bear fruit…fruit that will last.” (John 15:16) I will not be important enough in my family, any job, any community, but I am important to Christ. I am needed. I am enough.
No one can heal my broken heart, no person, nothing that I do will heal my heart. But Jesus, He says, I heal the broken-hearted, and I bind up the wounds. (Psalm 147:3) If you will let me, I will take your broken heart and make it new, and the pain and hurt will fade and will be no more. (2 Cor. 5:17)My emptiness will never be fulfilled with anything on this earth. Nothing….no man, no women, no child, no mother or father, no sister or brother, no home, no food, no job, no drug, no alcohol, no sex, no relationship, no marriage, no gender status, no race, no amount of money, no social status, no community, state, or country, no president or law, no hobby, no sport, no workout, no church or pastor can fill my emptiness, fill my loneliness, take away my sadness or mend the pain of a broken heart! Nothing, whatever you are thinking about right now, NO! No, it cannot make you happy or heal you or love you or make you feel important or secure or fill your emptiness! Forget the if-only, the what-ifs, or I wishes, even if it happens; it will never be enough, it will not fill you like Jesus. Nothing, but Jesus Christ.
It became so clear to me that if I wanted to experience life abundantly that I had to put my trust in God, and that I had to hand over my package. I strived for so long to be perfect and to have everyone and everything fit perfectly in my box and to look perfect. But the truth is my perfect is not perfect at all. I can choose to continue to believe that this world is enough or I can choose to believe that my God is greater…greater than anything I feel, greater than any love, any pain, and any broken-heart. Does it change my situation not entirely but it has changed me.
It has allowed me to love the unlovable,
To forgive the unforgivable,
To find my joy in Him and not in my circumstances,
To trust that no matter what I think or feel, He is with me, I am never alone,
To know it is ok to be real and honest about my life so that I can give others hope,
To experience peace that is unexplainable,
To smile knowing I can do anything in Him who gives me strength,
To believe that I am provided for, and He knows my needs even before I ask,
To walk in the truth that my sins are forgiven and have been tossed as far as the east is from the west, never to be remembered,
To live in the freedom of being set free of doubt, shame, darkness, and unbelief, and
To experience no greater love than the love of One who gave His life for me.
I pray that you will hand over your package and allow Him to give you so much more, to allow Him to give you what this world cannot give you, to allow Him to cover you in His security, peace, and presence. May He ignite a new hope in you and may you be wrapped in His love today.
Jesus is asking…
Do you truly love me more than these? Do you truly love me? Are you even my friend?
Do you love me?
*NIV Life Application Bible, 1991, Zondervan & Tyndale House Publishers