This year I'm realizing all over again what a mess they were. None of them had what we would call peaceful domestic circumstances, what with wives fighting for rights or exploiting the husband's fading eyesight and appetite for stew. The children were no better, swindling inheritance or selling little brother into slavery and pretending he was killed by wild animals. All of them displayed a penchant for lying to keep out of harm's way or even just to get what they wanted. They did eventually arrive at a place of faith and obedience, but not by a straight road.
All the same, God chose these men, checkered histories and all, as the founding fathers of a new nation. He explains the reason for the whole Project Israel to Moses later on:
“The LORD was devoted to you and chose you, not because you were more numerous than all peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your fathers, He brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (Deut. 7:7-8, HCSB).Why did God choose and redeem Israel? Why did He love them? "Because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore." He loved them because He loved them, not for anything great in themselves, but "just because." Once the oath was sworn to Abraham, He would prove faithful to keep it, but it was His sovereign, inscrutable choice to swear that oath to begin with.
Lest I think I'm above all this and somehow earned and must work to keep His favor, His God-breathed Word testifies in the New Testament, as well, that His love is not earned and our messy selves do not disqualify us.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Eph. 2:4-5, NASB).He loved us, He loved me, even when we were dead in our transgressions. Our perfection or efforts toward it do not save us and give us eternal life; His love, mercy, and grace do.
Beloved, if this finds you despairing of all the ways you fall short of your standard or God's, if you feel perhaps you have messed life up too badly for God ever to love or use you, may God encourage you as He is encouraging me: He loves you just because He loves you. Let us lean into that love He showed us in giving His only Son Jesus on the cross for our redemption, that love He continues to pour out on us every day in more ways than we can number. May the Creator of heaven and earth open our eyes to all the ways He's saying, "I love you," today.
Some of the ways He's loved me this past week:
2872. The gift of hearing His voice in His Word
2873. The second doctor confirmed that whatever's going on with my knees is not serious
2874. Decreased knee pain
2875. A fresh prescription for several more PT sessions in February
2876. Prayers wrapping me up in God's peace
2877. A book gift arriving in the post
2878. My sister's journey north to serve a grieving family by providing music for her friend's funeral
2879. Believers dying in faith and honor
2880. The joie de vivre and devotion to family and church exemplified by my husband's late uncle
2881. "All clear" on a non-routine routine lab test
2882. A friend's companionship during the test and waiting for results
2883. More laughter with a girlfriend than I've had in quite some time
2884. One last birthday luncheon
2885. Beautiful, pseudo-spring weather
2886. Grace for a hard conversation
2887. "I am with you always"
2888. A new tv making husband grin
2889. A good home for the old one
The reading schedule I'm following this year was developed many years ago by Robert Murray M'Cheyne and can be found here: http://www.esv.org/assets/pdfs/rp.one.year.tract.pdf
If you would like some creative gratitude prompts for February, Ann Voskamp has provided a beautiful, printable list here: