Day 3: 30 Days of Gratitude

Today, I am grateful for the love of Christ.

Yesterday, I thought a lot about the love I have for and from my bride, Mary. As I contemplated how I am still finding new facets of her love and I am still sometimes surprised by her love, I started thinking about what the love of Christ is to me. I would not say that I am, necessarily, deserving of Mary’s love. However, I can say unequivocally that I am COMPLETELY UNDESERVING of Christ’s love. (As are we all, by the way.)

I’ve been on a journey for a while now to deal with some things that happened during my childhood. One thing that I have had to work hard on is to be able to accept the agape love of God. I believe 100% that God loves me and that Christ’s love is for all of us (including me). However, letting that love be real in my thoughts and my heart has been a struggle. He is teaching me, though. He has walked with me through some pretty severe seasons of depression, and all that comes with that. Not only that, but He has also brought me out on the other side of that with more strength, a deeper love for Him, and a more practical understanding of His love for me.

He has used numerous people in my life to express His love for me and to instruct me in His love. He made a way for me to become connected with a wonderful Christian counselor at the Center for Relational Care in Austin, Texas, who has helped me tremendously. I see him most weeks via the internet. Likewise, he has led me to many resources like the Healing the Wounded Heart online course at The Allender Center. Most recently, through a contact that Mary made while at a conference she attended a few years ago, I became aware of the Traction Conference for men who work in the field of missions. Since I’m already in Europe, getting there was inexpensive and even though it is held in the Alps in Switzerland, it is heavily subsidized by that ministry, so attending was affordable. The Lord met me there and did things in my heart that I am not even able to express in words yet.

One of the counselors at the conference gave me this book. Gentle and Lowly, by Dane Ortlund. It is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. And I’ve read a lot of books. I can’t think of a book that has impacted me more (except the Bible, of course) so I would put it at the top of my book list.

There are so many jewels of truth in its pages. I’m on my second read through and will probably read it several more times, simply because it is like a fire hose of truth and encouragement and I cannot take it all in. Mary has recently started reading it as well.

The felt love of Christ really is what brings rest, wholeness, flourishing, Shalom — that existential calm that for brief, gospel-sane moments settles over you and lets you step in out of the storm…
Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund

Knowing that the love of Christ is true and real is easy for me. Feeling that it is true for me has been something rather difficult for me. Note: Living by feelings is an unstable way to live. That’s not what I’m talking about, here. I am learning how to more fully experience Christ’s love — to feel it. I need to process this more, so I can verbalize it adequately. I don’t seem to have words for what He has done and is doing.

…the sweep of New Testament teaching is that it is the sun of Christ’s heart, not the clouds of my sins, that now defines me.
Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund

I can also say that it’s not the clouds of the things of the past that define me. It’s Christ’s heart for me that gives me my identity. It’s His love that defines who I am. That has been hard for me to grasp and hold on to. I am so thankful that God never lets go. Furthermore, I am thankful that Christ’s love is strong, secure, and persistent.

I will have to think through how to express this in language. And it is obviously bigger than one blog post.

Today, I am so grateful that the love of Christ is real to me. I am thankful that the love of Christ stretched across eternity and found me. The love of Christ found Chris Malone.

Mentioned in this post

Gentle and Lowly

This is one of the best books I have EVER read.

In Matthew 11, Jesus describes himself as “gentle and lowly in heart,” longing for his people to find rest in him. This book reflects on his words, diving deep into Bible passages that speak of Christ’s affections for sinners and encouraging believers as they journey, weary and faltering, toward heaven.

Chris Malone

Chris and his family serve as missionaries near Kyiv, Ukraine. Chris and his wife, Mary, have nine children. Five of their children have Down syndrome and four of those are adopted from Ukraine. Their four older children are in various stages of starting college and starting careers.

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