Before becoming Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Lloyd Ogilvie pastored Hollywood Presbyterian Church in California, and hosted a television show with a title I have always loved, “Let God Love You.” Don’t you love that? Who could be opposed to that?
Now, when I look to encourage WWIB listeners before six weekday mornings, one of the three questions I consistenly ask is “Are you going to let God love you?”
In his book, “The Ultimate Conversation: Talking with God Through Prayer,” Dr. Charles Stanley says, “your intimacy with God–His first priority in your life–determines the impact of your life.” Stanley goes on to say there was a time in his life when he wrestled with knowing God more deeply. Although the church he was leading was growing well and everything else in his life seemed fantastic, he was struggling inwardly. He couldn’t identify what the encumbrance was, no matter how much he sought the Lord and prayed. So he called his four closest friends, who were all godly men, and said, “God is trying to teach me something, but I don’t know what it is and I need your help to figure it out.” Stanley told his friends, “Here’s what I want to do: I will tell you everything that I know about myself–good, bad and indifferent. Then I would like the four of you to confer about what I should do. Whatever you agree to tell me, I’ll do it. I know you’re all listening to God.” Stanley says they started about two o’clock in the afternoon and talked until ten o’clock that first night. After they went to bed, Stanley says he wrote out seventeen legal-sized pages of experiences from his life he didn’t want to forget to tell them. The next day he says they conversed for several more hours. Finally, he writes that one of the men said, “Charles, put your head on the table and close your eyes.”
Stanley says he did this and quietly the man asked him, “Imagine your father just picked you up in his arms and held you. What do you feel?” The friend knew Dr. Stanley’s father had died when he was nine months old and that his loss had had a tremendous impact on Stanley’s life.
Stanley says he immediately burst out crying, and he continued weeping for a long time. Still, Stanley says, he did not understand what was causing so much emotion. The friend again asked, “What do you feel Charles?”
Stanley writes, “The feelings were so overpowering, it was a long time before I could answer him. At last I replied, “I felt hugged, like I was warm and secure. I felt…loved.” Dr. Stanley says he realized that until that day, he had never really experienced God’s love. He says he told others about God’s love, but had never truly sensed it for himself.
Stanley says, “That day changed my life. The time with four of my friends transformed my ministry and everything I felt about the Christian life; the Father’s love had become real to me and extremely powerful.”
Finally, Stanley invites us to do the same, writing: “I challenge you to do the same. Put your head down and imagine the Father holding you. You may be surprised by the emotions you feel. You may, as I did, realized His overwhelming love for you. It it possible that you feel like squirming in His arms and pushing Him away because, somewhere in your heart, you do not trust Him. A sense of conviction may come over you due to some unconfessed sin. You may realized that you’ve been running away from Him all of your life when all you’ve wanted to do is feel safe in your heavenly Father’s arms.”
“Whatever the case,” Stanley writes, “be still and allow God to deal with whatever emotions and issues arise. Do not fear. He will teach you what to do.”
“The Father can remove any encumbrance you have to knowing Him, and He can draw you into a deeper, more intimate relationship than you have ever known. Trust Him.”