It still just amazes me how God’s Word holds such depth of truth. Recently I taught a lesson based on Romans 5:3-5 to my Acteens group. In fact, it was a series of lessons, covering several weeks. And yet today a concept in verse 5 exploded open before me in a way I never considered even when studying those verses to teach.
Rom 5:5 incorporates an amazingly beautiful picture of God’s love. I know God always loves me, but how often do I truly experience that love as presented in this verse? Look at what it says…
“…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
How I wish I knew all of the Greek with it’s descriptive tenses. But, from what I have read from those who do know the Greek, this verse indicates that God’s love has been poured into us and our reservoir remains full. It makes me think of a river that has been dammed. The lake formed behind the dam fills up. It remains full because the river is still feeding into it. But, thanks to the dam, the lake is not just sitting there being continually filled – it is also useful, pouring its powerful energy into providing for others.
God’s love is like that lake. It has not only filled us, but as we pour out into this world, it continually fills us that we may never even begin to see our supplies lessened. We constantly have a full, deep, and abiding love within us. J.I. Packer put it this way, “Paul assumes that all his readers, like himself, will be living in the enjoyment of a strong and abiding sense of God’s love for them.”
But do we live like we believe that? Or do we live like there is a constant flux in the love we enjoy? Some days it is a creek, and other days it just floods over into the lake. But, something constant? No, we don’t really live like we have a constant and deep lake of love continually existing within us.
What are the consequences of living in a shallow understanding of God’s love for us?
First, we continually feel the need to have an experiential rush so that we can be washed in the depths now and then. We somehow know we were made for the depths, but we stay in the shallows thinking that’s all that’s available to us. Instead, we live for floods. For rushes. For excitement. We have to have those great moments. We are constantly trying to grab onto the thrill of an exceptional spiritual experience through revivals, retreats, and other infusions of God’s presence. We miss the fact that all we have to do is daily step deeper into the depths already waiting for us.
Secondly, we have nothing to pour out. Because we live in the shallows, we assume that our reserves are limited. As we begin to pour out to others, we begin to feel drained and strained. We can only pour out so much before we feel the need to be refilled ourselves. So, we pull back and seek out the aforementioned spiritual experiences so that we may be refilled to go back out again. And yet, we greatly dislike the drained feeling. And, the steps it takes to receive the fresh infusion are time-consuming. We don’t always have the time or opportunity to receive the infusion because we surely can’t get it in.
When will we learn that we can pour out without every becoming empty?
The depths of God’s love are right here waiting for me. His love has filled me and remains full within me. It will never decrease, no matter how much I pour out. I will never reach the bottom of it. In fact, I am invited to try to explore the “breadth and length and height and depth” of that love (Eph 3:18) because I will never in this lifetime get to all extremes of it! Great experiences are not required. It is here. Right where I am. In my daily interactions with Christ. In my regular interactions with my church family. All I have to do is steadily walk deeper, allowing myself to be immersed in the depths – and trusting that it will not crush or suffocate me. On the contrary, it will give me life and enable me to pour that life out continually to others!
I’m ready to move from the shallows to the depths. Will you join me?