Thursday, February 14, 2013

You Are Loved!

by C.J. Chase


Happy Valentine’s Day, 2013!

Now knowing that this post is coming to you from a professional romance novelist, I’ll forgive you if you assume I’m going to write about hearts and chocolate and cards and naked Cupids.

Because I’m not going to talk about any of those things. I want to ponder love—not romantic love, as wonderful as that is, but God’s love for his creation.

1.     God’s love is impartial.

When I set out to write my second book (The Reluctant Earl, available in stores right now – okay, shameless promo over), I had to come up with appropriate names for my characters. Naming a character is second only to naming a child on the angst level. It’s hard to find the one, perfect name that conveys the personality, background, and associations.

I chose Leah for my heroine. Remember the Old Testament story of sisters Leah and Rachel? Leah was older, plainer, with a squint. Rachel was younger, prettier, and more than a little spoiled. My Leah is an older romance novel heroine (age 28) and not pretty enough to find a man willing to overlook her lack of dowry.

This affected her self-worth. In fact, my “working title” for the book was Unworthy, because that was how Leah felt about herself. She saw herself as the world did—poor, plain, valued only for what she did rather than who she was.

But God uses another yardstick. Consider this direct quote of God speaking to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7 ESV)

God doesn’t care if we are tall and svelte or short and stocky. He doesn’t care if we are rocket scientists or if we have difficulty reading these words. He doesn’t care if we drive a Beemer or a bicycle. Romans 2:11 tells us that God doesn’t show partiality, either in his punishments or his blessings. Our possessions, our appearance, our intellect don’t impress the glorious, all-knowing, all-powerful One.

Furthermore, he wants us to treat others in the same fashion. In Deuteronomy 1:17, God demands justice for all before the law. James echoes this theme when he warns against treating the rich with more deference than the poor. If that isn’t difficult enough, he even demands we love our enemies – just like He loved us while we were yet sinners and separated from Him (Romans 5:8).

God’s love has no conditions. He loves us just because we are part of his creation.

2.     God’s love is sacrificial.

After I typed this, I nearly laughed. It seems…counterintuitive. How can the God who has everything sacrifice anything?

I already mentioned Romans 5:8 a couple paragraphs earlier: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV) Many of us fortunate enough to grow up in Christian families memorized John 3:16 as children: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…”

Christ didn’t just sacrifice his life. (He is eternal, after all.) And he gave up more than his comfort and possessions. He surrendered his very essence for us. So many days, I don’t stop to think how incredible that was. To put it in human terms, I like my dog—but there is just no way I’d surrender my humanity to live life as a dog, even temporarily. (Insert your own recollections of things dogs do that make you say, “Ewwww!”) How much bigger the gap between divine Creator and sinful creature?

Every good love story needs a moment where a character makes a sacrifice for love. Why? Because surrendering something of supreme importance—a goal, a prized possession, time, comfort—for another person is the ultimate demonstration of love.

In fact, I tried to find a way we show love that doesn’t require some form of cost—and couldn’t come up with anything. Even an act as simple as reading to a child costs time.

So this Valentines Day, remember to show love to those beyond your sweetie, family, and friends. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35 KJV)

Question for Valentines Day: My older son and I were discussing the idea of sacrificing one’s all for God. We looked at the examples of the widow who put her two mites into the offering (“all her living” according to Mark 12) and contrasted her with the rich young man in Mark 10, who when challenged to give away all his possessions, walked away. Is it easier to give our all to God when we have abundance or little? 

After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her next book, The Reluctant Earl, will be available  February 5, 2013. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at www.cjchasebooks.com

9 comments:

  1. That's a tough question, C.J. but I know one thing- the more we have the more we want!
    Sacrifice comes in so many forms. If we sacrifice our wants for someone else's, we are showing love--unless we regret that sacrifice or make a big deal out of it.

    love is action not word, or flowers or chocolate. Those things are sweet, but, a spouse or partner willing to show love through an action of sacrifice is amazingly more romantic!

    Enjoy your day with all those valentines under your roof, C.J.!

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  2. Oh, C.J., this is absolutely beautiful and true... I love how you tied in the sacrificial base to time because that's where so many of us fall down. What a wonderful post!

    I love the name Leah, and the story of Leah and Rachel is one that can be re-told in modern terms countless times. Sisters... different... seeking love.... Wonderful analogy!

    Hey, I brought you some cake to share... There's plenty, so feel free to offer it to friends. ♥

    Ruthy

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  3. Deb, you are so right about the more we have, the more we want. It's like possessions become addictive.

    My son decided that it's easier to give up everything when we only have little. Of course, who wants to start with little?

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  4. Ruthy, thank you for the compliment.

    When you live in a society as prosperous as ours, I think time is one of the hardest things to sacrifice.

    And I'll go put the teapot on to go with the cake.

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  5. Great post...and good question. I do think the more stuff I have, the tighter I cling to it. I hoard so many things God has freely given to me.

    I would love some of that tea and Ruthy's cake!

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  6. Great questions you ask today. In my experience it is easier to sacrifice with little, because we are already relying on God for so much, we know he isn't going to let us down. The more we have, the less reliant we are on God, and more we rely on our resources.

    It's interesting to think about how that ties into love.

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  7. Thanks for this great post, CJ. Love it! You've given me a lot to think about. :-)

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  8. Beautiful, and thought-provoking! I love the dog analogy. Puts things very much into perspective!

    I think the issue with giving to God has less to do with how much we have than the condition of our heart.

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  9. Susie, that seems to be the general feeling -- that the more we have, the harder it is to let go. I think Lisa may have hit on the reason why.

    Niki, I was reading my husband the dog analogy right before I read you message. We were laughing because the dog had just done something icky.

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