Immanuel Love

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend 5 days on the beach recently. Sunshine and waves are a delightful tonic for brain health! Besides that, watching the ocean always draws my mind to consider God, maybe because I grew up in a church that frequently sang the rousing 4-part harmony chorus proclaiming, “Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus, deeper than the mighty rolling sea! (the rolling sea!)” 

            The ocean was certainly rolling mightily on this specific day as a strong wind stirred the waves. Watching them continuously cresting and crashing on the shore was mesmerizing. There is just no end to it, no one last wave and it stops. As far out as I could see there were whitecaps indicating more waves were on the way in. I noticed the endless sky above the ocean stretched from the sea’s horizon to horizon as far as I could see. The vastness of all that space – an endless ocean embraced by an endless sky – was overwhelming. Psalm 103:11 came to mind. The space between the endless ocean and the endless sky is only a representation of the vastness of God’s love for us. 

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.

So much love! Awed by the thought of God’s love, I worshipped. A divine, holy love filling that enormous space is much more than I can comprehend. Yet, to believe His word I must believe that God fills the space between heaven and earth with steadfast love for his people. It is because love is his nature, what he is: God is love (1 John 4:8). That much love is almost too overwhelming. And in that space, I am aware that I am far too small and sinful; it seems impossible to receive all that love. 

            Thankfully, God’s love is also so complete that it removes the sin that keeps me distant from his love. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the evidence of God’s steadfast, higher than the heavens love come down to earth for us. His sacrificial love acts by choosing to forgive my sin – throwing it to the bottom of that vast endless ocean so He can replace it with His love.  

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?

He does not retain his anger forever,  because he delights in steadfast love.

He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. 

You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.            Micah 7: 18-19

How can my weak, wandering heart possibly hold that much love? Because this magnificent God of unlimited, steadfast love is named Immanuel. The God of love is with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  

God’s love has been poured into our hearts 

through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:5

The same limitless love that has eternally existed in the Trinity, the love God the Father declared for Jesus at his baptism, is the same love God has for His children (John 17: 23) and is poured into us through His Spirt. That is astounding, unimaginable, amazing love! Michael Reeves, in his book, “Delighting in the Trinity” explains it this way: 

the Spirit who unites us to Christ…takes what is Christ’s and makes it ours (Jn 16:14) 

so that in the beloved Son we might be the beloved children of God…

[The Spirit] unites us to the Son so that the Father’s love for the Son also encompasses us.

Can you even begin to imagine that God loves you the same way he loves his Son? But he does!

This is Immanuel love – vast, limitless, steadfast, faithful, merciful, and forgiving eternal love with us forever. 

In Christ, we are being filled and shaped by the higher-than-the-heavens Immanuel love of God! Believing Him for this kind of love removes fears and doubts, and fuels devotion for Him, pursuit of holiness, and love for others. Lord, may you do it! Amen!

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

Cover photo by Photo by Nicholas Rean on Unsplash

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