“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 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” (Rom. 8:38-39, NKJV).
Can I be honest? In the past, I would go straight to the latter part of the above passage in hopes that the strong and hopeful language would encourage my heart amid the daily trials and storms that find their way to my doorstep.
NOTHING SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD …
Regardless of our title, our position or our present predicaments, that is what we all hope for, right? Until I realized that there was one factor in the equation I was forgetting: me. You see, I got really good at quoting this verse, but, if you’d dug down deep into my soul, you would have found fear and doubt. The real truth was that, though the words would roll off my tongue, I struggled.
UNTIL NOW …
Now I look at the world differently. The coming wind and cloudy skies don’t unnerve me the way they used to, for I have been given new eyes to see life as it happens in real time. My ears have been properly tuned, and though I must choose to receive it, I enjoy the peace that comes in proximity to the Lord.
This transformational outlook did not just happen overnight, but, more accurately, through a season of loss, risk and vulnerability. A great storm meant to destroy my faith was the substance Jesus so graciously and lovingly used to change me from the inside out. It boils down to the fact that I have been persuaded.
That’s the word that most of us pass by quickly in order to get the meat of Romans 8:38-39, but, as I have found out through a very painful yet beautiful journey, this one word is the foundational key that unlocks the richness found in the truths that follow.
I HAVE BEEN UTTERLY CONVINCED
Though I didn’t initially go willingly into this transformative process, I discovered that these truths are the fruition of a heart that has been convinced by the pursuant and persistent love of God. The only factor I had any control over was my heart and my willingness to trust when things didn’t make sense. When I decided in my hopeless and devastated state to authentically open my heart up a fraction of an inch, the unexplainable and timeless love and grace of Jesus met me right where I was. Then I’d step out again and open my heart up a little more, and He would meet me again and again, until I was able to stand upright against the coming tide and fear not, for I had been persuaded that nothing was stronger than our connection. Nothing—not even tragedy—could separate me from His love.
To be candid, I had gone through many trials in life before I found myself in this storm of great proportion, but I had always held back right before my heart was opened up in true vulnerability. Either through giftedness, or some other convenient safety net, I could observe God move without being totally transformed. I tasted of God’s love, but I wasn’t fully mobilized by it. I now understand deeply that the inevitable trials and circumstances of life actually deepen my perspective—when I am receptive to it—toward the kind of love that cannot be shaken, dismantled or taken away. Once I was persuaded, I was fully His, and no situation could ever change that.
The beauty of this revelation is that true and honest transformation engenders an environment of transformation. This pursuant and persuading journey of faith, be it through the heights as well as the depths, is a daily occupation. It’s a one-step-at-a-time endeavor that unleashes our full capacity to love and be loved. To desire freedom and see that it comes to pass.
- May we as leaders be open to the transforming love of Christ in our hearts—no matter what we face before us.
- May strength and peace fill the hearts of those who find themselves currently in a storm. May the truth of Romans 8:38-39 bring comfort and hope.
- May we as leaders be vulnerable enough to lay down any burden, sin or distraction that would hinder our connection with Christ.