And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT
The Bible says that the love of Christ makes us “complete” and gives us a full life along with the power that comes from God.
Have you been experiencing that lately?
I’ve spent a lot of time, even as a Christian, not really understanding or experiencing God’s love. I know God loves me, but that’s not the same as experiencing his love. I know my husband loves me, but I experience his love when he shows up at work with my favorite drink from Starbucks just to brighten my day.
If I don’t experience God’s love every day, I walk around incomplete. I feel empty and insecure, trying to get the love and significance I need from people and things that can’t give them. I crave attention and approval, and I fixate on relatively insignificant things—whether I’m performing or behaving right, what others think of me, or how someone may have been insensitive in a text message.
I end up missing the point of Christianity, much like the religious scholars of Jesus’ day:
“Great sorrow awaits you religious scholars and Pharisees—frauds and pretenders! For you are obsessed with peripheral issues, like insisting on paying meticulous tithes on the smallest herbs that grow in your gardens. These matters are fine, yet you ignore the most important duty of all: to walk in the love of God, to display mercy to others, and to live with integrity. Readjust your values and place first things first.”
Matthew 23:23 TPT
If we don’t truly “walk in the love of God, we can become frauds and religious pretenders. Because we don’t really believe we are loved even in our imperfections, we obsess over religious behaviors that aren’t really that important. We pretend to have faith in God even though we don’t really believe in his love.
Others of us harden ourselves to our pain, shame, and negative emotions when we don’t believe God loves us. Instead of becoming more religious, we wander away from God completely:
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.  They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
Ephesians 4:17-19 NLT
I spend a lot of time in the empty, behavior-obsessed space, and the hard-hearted “living for pleasure” space. Neither of these places is where we want to be. I’m learning that God’s love is the only thing that can break me out of them. Perhaps that’s why the lyrics of this song, “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury, caught my attention:
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99, And I couldn’t earn it I don’t deserve it, still you give yourself away. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. When I was your foe, still your love fought for me. You have been so, so good to me. When I felt no worth, you paid it all for me. You have been so, so kind to me. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99, And I couldn’t earn it I don’t deserve it, still you give yourself away. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God There’s no shadow you won’t light up Mountain you won’t climb up Coming after me There’s no wall you won’t kick down Lie you won’t tear down Coming after me.
Reckless: marked by lack of proper caution; careless of consequences. (This is an interesting word because it usually has negative connotations. But we’ll explore more below how God’s love is selfless and “careless of the consequences” to himself).
In this devotional, we’ll look at what the Bible says about the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God so that these lyrics can become more than a beautiful song. They can come to describe our own personal experience with God, helping us understand how wide, long, high, and deep his love really is and giving us the power to bring that love into our friendships with other people.
God’s love overwhelms all our fears
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35, 38-39 NLT
To “overwhelm” something is to overpower it. God’s love is strong enough to overpower everything. There is no trouble we can get into that overpowers God’s love for us, and no fear or worry that is too big for him. The Message translation of this passage says “not even the worst sins listed in Scripture” can get between us and God’s love.
Two of the biggest things that make me question God’s love for me are my fears and my sins. My fear makes me believe that God and others will reject me if I’m not perfect, and my sin makes me wonder how God or anyone could love me when I fall short so consistently.
God’s answer to both of these roadblocks is in this passage: Jesus. Because Jesus gave his life for my sin, nothing can separate me from God’s love. Whether I’m having a good day or a bad day, whether I’m successful or unsuccessful, God loves me. I don’t have to be afraid of rejection, and I don’t have to suffer the consequences of my sins.
I am learning that the love of God is strong enough to calm all my fears, including my fear of rejection. Though I try to find acceptance and love in many other ways—like being in control, being liked, and being impressive—the only thing that can calm my fears is the strong and steady love of God. It is available to me every moment of every day, which brings incredible security.
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
If the God who created the universe already knows everything about me, and he still likes me and forgives me, then I don’t need to worry about what people might do. He will protect me and meet my needs.
One practical thing we can do to experience this overwhelming love is to set aside undistracted time to read or listen to the Bible each morning and practice trusting what God says more than we trust our emotions. My fear tells me that the scriptures I read aren’t true or don’t apply to me, and I often believe these emotions more than I believe what God says.
To experience the love of God, I need to decide to trust and believe God more than I believe my feelings. This is how I can feel his presence, even when my busy thoughts feel out of control:
Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight.
Psalm 94:19 TPT
Pause and reflect
What are some things that make you question whether God could really love you?
What are some things that you try to fill your heart with instead of God’s love?
What are some practical ways you can decide to trust and believe God over your feelings and thoughts today?
God’s love will never quit on us
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Luke 15:1-7 NLT
To God, the “one” sheep matters. That means you and I matter enough to him to leave 99 other sheep just to find us. This passage is not just for other people who seem “more lost” than you; it’s important to believe that God feels this way about you. He never gives up on you, and when he finds you, he doesn’t angrily scold you. He will carry you when you can’t muster the strength to walk on your own, and he will be so happy to have you back that he will share the news with everyone around him.
Do you believe you matter that much to God?
Usually, when I read this story, the main thing I walk away with is I should imitate Jesus’ heart to search for the lost. While that is true, I sometimes miss a very important part of the passage: sometimes I am the lost sheep. That’s one of the mistakes the Pharisees and religious scholars made in this interaction with Jesus—they thought others were “lost,” and didn’t realize that perhaps they had lost their way too.
As a religious person, I get lost, but it’s not always as obvious on the outside as it was for the “tax collectors and sinners” Jesus hung out with. I get lost in my emotions, winding through dark paths of fear and doubt. I get lost in my sins, believing I need things like selfish ambition, pride, and empty pleasure while losing the satisfaction that comes from walking closely with God. I get lost in regret, and unable to move forward from feelings of failure. I get lost in bitterness, unable to resolve pain in my life, and blind to the love that’s right in front of me.
When I can’t find a way out of these places, I eventually want to quit. I may not quit outwardly, but I do on the inside. I quit believing in the Bible or believing in prayer. I quit giving my heart to relationships because I am lost in bitterness. I quit being honest about my guilt because I can’t find forgiveness.
In all these moments, I am learning to find hope in knowing that God won’t quit on me even when I can’t find my own way back. I can rely on him to carry me back to him.
If I ride on the wings of morning, if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean, Even then You will be there to guide me; Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there. Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me, the light around me will soon be turned to night,” You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes. For You the night is just as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.
Psalm 139:9-12 Voice
There’s great comfort in knowing someone will always come to find you. When I was about seven years old, I played a game of hide and seek with my sisters at my grandmother’s house. I hid inside our car in the driveway, which turned out to be too good of a spot because my sisters couldn’t find me.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t go back inside either—as I hid, I heard coyotes start to howl outside the car. I was terrified of these animals (though in reality, they were far away and would have run away from me anyway), so I waited in the car, alone, hoping someone would find me.
As scared as I was, something gave me hope: my mom was inside the house. I knew she would search until she found me. Sure enough, before too much time passed, the car door opened and my mom was on the other side, ushering me to safety.
Just as I was confident that my mom would search for me until she found me, we can be confident that Jesus will search for us until he finds us. Even if we feel like we should know better, or we shouldn’t feel the way we do, he will take the time to gently guide us home if we let him. No matter how dark, hopeless, or desperate things feel, no matter how far we have wandered or what choices we have made, Jesus won’t quit on us.
When I get “lost,” I need to search the Bible to see how God says to get back home. God’s Word is a light that guides us down the right path, even when our minds and hearts feel dark:
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105 NLT
When I’m grateful for the ways God brings me “home,” I’ll naturally have the heart to search for others who are lost.
Pause and reflect
Take time to think about what you get “lost” in. Using a digital Bible, find verses on those topics. Let the Bible tell you how God feels about you when you’re lost in those things and how God can guide you out of those things.
God’s love is not self-serving
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
1 John 4:9-10 NLT
In Cory Asbury’s song I referenced earlier, God’s love is described as “reckless.” This was the hardest term for me to wrap my mind around, but it helped me to understand that God’s love is “reckless” in the sense that he is willing to sacrifice for us. True love is not self-serving, and God doesn’t love us in order to get something from us. Jesus was willing to endure the worst kind of pain because he wanted to give us the love we needed, not so he could get something in return.
“I’m telling you to love your enemies and do good to them. Lend to people without expecting to get anything back. If you do this, you will have a great reward. You will be children of the Most High God. Yes, because God is good even to the people who are full of sin and not thankful.
Luke 6:35 ERV
Have you ever received something good in your life, even at a time when you weren’t living the way God wanted you to? I’ve experienced some of my best answered prayers at some of my worst spiritual moments, when I was farthest from God. I am ungrateful on a regular basis, and as a parent myself, I understand how hurtful ingratitude can be. Yet God doesn’t do good for me just to get my gratitude. He just genuinely wants to give me good things.
If I don’t remember or believe that God loves me in this way, I will have no ability to love others in the same way. Even my best attempts at loving will really be self-serving. I’ll do good deeds for others in hopes that they’ll be amazed at what a great friend I am or impressed by my abilities. Self-interest will permeate even my most religious activities:
By now a crowd of many thousands had gathered around Jesus. So many people pushed to be near him, they began to trample on one another. Jesus turned to his disciples and warned them, “Make sure you are not influenced by the hypocrisy and phoniness of the religious leaders. It permeates everything they do and teach, for they are merely serving their own interests.”
Luke 12:1 TPT
One of the ways I can fight this temptation to be self-serving is by practicing gratitude. My friends tell me this regularly; it’s one of those lessons I am far from mastering. But daily gratitude for the ways God loves me sacrificially will help me desire to love other people in the same way.
So, my loved ones, if God loved us so sacrificially, surely we should love one another. No one has ever seen God with human eyes; but if we love one another, God truly lives in us. Consequently God’s love has accomplished its mission among us.
1 John 4:11-12 VOICE
We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us. God is love. Anyone who lives faithfully in love also lives faithfully in God, and God lives in him. This love is fulfilled with us, so that on the day of judgment we have confidence based on our identification with Jesus in this world. Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. We love because He has first loved us. If someone claims, “I love God,” but hates his brother or sister, then he is a liar. Anyone who does not love a brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot possibly love God, whom he has never seen. He gave us a clear command, that all who love God must also love their brothers and sisters.
1 John 4:16-21 VOICE
These passages make it clear that when we experience the love of God, it should flow over into our friendships and expel any fears we may have. Fear is what makes us self-protective in relationships. Sometimes, our fear makes us cautious, but it can also make us selfishly desire to please people instead of loving them. On the outside, we might appear to be selflessly laying down our lives for others, but in reality, we are sacrificing ourselves in ways that are not spiritual. We are compromising ourselves to get the approval and attention of others.
Truly loving someone else means thinking about what’s best for them, even if they don’t like it right away. Sometimes sacrificially loving means being willing to have someone get mad at us because we care more about them than we do for our own pleasure or comfort.
Pause and reflect:
How does it make you feel to know that God wants to give you good things regardless of whether you deserve them or not?
What are some friendships or relationships in your life in which you need to be more selfless? What are some ways you can do that?
God’s love Is unearned and undeserved
For when the time was right, the Anointed One came and died to demonstrate his love for sinners who were entirely helpless, weak, and powerless to save themselves. Now, who of us would dare to die for the sake of a wicked person? We can all understand if someone was willing to die for a truly noble person. But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly! And there is still much more to say of his unfailing love for us! For through the blood of Jesus we have heard the powerful declaration, “You are now righteous in my sight.” And because of the sacrifice of Jesus, you will never experience the wrath of God.
Romans 5:6-9 TPT
I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to earn love and approval, so this passage is incredibly reassuring. Jesus gave up his life for me at my most ungodly moment. What are you like at your most “ungodly”? Jesus loves even that person, so we don’t have to hide who we are or pretend to be someone we’re not.
However, as someone who has also spent a lot of my life trying to be “good,” sometimes it’s hard to admit that I am “helpless, weak, and powerless to save myself.” It’s uncomfortable and vulnerable to admit the things that show how powerless I am, so instead I lean on my good deeds. I try hard to prove myself and do things perfectly, but don’t ask for help when I need it.
There are always areas of my life that make me aware of my weakness and powerlessness, and if I am willing to admit them, they help me find greater intimacy with God and confidence in his love. I can feel powerless to change my anxiety, my tendency to get angry easily at home, and my self-focus in my friendships. When I’m honest about this, I feel more secure in how much God loves the real me—even the anxious, angry, and selfish me. When I won’t admit how powerless I feel, I get not only insecure but also arrogant, constantly trying to prove to myself and others that I am doing a good job instead of admitting I might need help.
This passage helps me regularly:
Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Psalm 51:16 MSG
I can experience God’s love only when I’m willing to admit I need it. When I do, I won’t be disappointed; he will always notice. He does not expect a perfect performance but a humble heart.
Just as God’s love is unearned and undeserved, so are his plans and purposes for me:
For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number! If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable! Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.
Psalm 139:13-14,16-18 Voice
God’s purpose and destiny for me are also not dependent on my performance. God’s thoughts for me were established before I was born, before I could do anything good or bad to earn his favor. When I remember and believe this, I find great security in being able to let go of past failures and my present desire to avoid failure. God’s purpose for me is not something I can earn, like a promotion. Mistakes don’t change it either. I can be confident that God loves me and has great plans for me regardless of any mistakes I have made.
Pause and reflect
What are some areas that can make you feel powerless or weak? How do you think those areas could help you feel more secure in God’s love for you?
Are there any mistakes in your life that make you doubt God’s good plans for you? Why?
But God is rich in mercy because of his great love for us. We were dead because of our failures, but he made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.) God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him. He did this through Christ Jesus out of his generosity to us in order to show his extremely rich kindness in the world to come. God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.
Ephesians 2:4-10 GW
You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming, and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it. It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out; the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.
Psalm 139:3-6 Voice
God’s love is overwhelming and never-ending. His love is one of the most important things we need to understand about him, and it’s not enough to know about it without experiencing it personally. We matter to God, and knowing that is what gives us hope in the times we feel lost in darkness. God loves us at our worst moments, he will never give up on us. As we grow in our understanding of that we will become secure, confident, and full of the same kind of love for other people in our lives.
Amy is a writer and editor for Deep Spirituality. She studied psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has over a decade of experience in mentoring, counseling and community organizing.
Amy is a writer and editor for Deep Spirituality. She studied psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has over a decade of experience in mentoring, counseling and community organizing.