Much of my life I lived under the "frown of God," or so I thought. I wasn't a bad kid; in fact, I was quite religious and moral. But I wasn't perfect for sure. (For one thing, I was a terrible big sister, mean and self-centered toward my siblings.) But I knew God required perfection, so I was always working my way down a spiritual "to do list" of some kind (depending on the Christian group I was with. They each had their own, you know).
In fact, as an adult I even made up lists of my own to make me "spiritual," pleasing to God so that He would love me more and not frown so much -- a prayer list for each day, week, and month; fasting days; scripture memorization schedule; Bible study plan, etc. etc.
I was sincere, but always wondering if I "qualified" to get God's help to be and do what He wanted. I was a Christian, and I wasn't working for my salvation. I knew that was secure because of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No, this was my askew .. no, more than askew ... "messed up" way of living what I thought was the "Christian life." (see "The Key to the Christian Life")
Then after years of this sin-focused, not working, way of living; after years of struggle with a mixture of grace and "Christian law" (a.k.a. legalism); after failing health because of strange sensitivities and years of being thought of as a hypochondriac, I assumed God was judging me. And I finally gave up! I basically said to the Lord, "I can't do this anymore!"
That's when I heard the Voice and saw "the Smile that destroyed my religion." My Father, through His indwelling Spirit, said to my heart:
"I love you even if you never do another thing right again."
And in an instant my soul was set free by the unconditional love of God: His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."*
When I embraced this message as God's truth for my life, I began seeing it all over the scriptures. I hadn't so much before, because I was focused on the "doing" passages and not the "done" passages, not on the truth verses, like these:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
(1 John 3:1-2 NLT)
The Father Himself loves you. (John 16:27 NASB)
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39 NASB)
And so besides seeing LOVE all over the pages of God's Word, I began to see His Smile, that was in reality there all the time. Now I live under that Smile. I live in Grace, no longer law or a mix of law and grace...just Grace. Praise His Name!
What about you, my friend? Are you living under what you think is God's frown or even His fickleness (back and forth). Those are lies (see "Flawless...Really?"). Embrace God and His unconditional love: His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."* Live under His Smile and in pure Grace because that is your reality, O child of God.
*a quote from a magnificent children's bible story book: The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones, beautifully illustrated by Jago