Our hearts crave experiencing God’s love. We’ve heard many teachings and sermons on the subject. In fact many of us believe (at least in our minds) that it’s God’s desire for us to know and experience how much He deeply loves us unconditionally.
In fact, it only makes sense that if 1st John 4:8 is true (God is love), then our very connection with Him and each other would be the experience of love, right?
Before I continue to what I’ve discovered regarding the path (not formula) to the intimate experience of God’s love, we need to check out the intent of 1st John 4:8. It will reveal why we sometimes fall short in personally knowing the love of God for ourselves.
Just before the ‘God is love’ part of 1st John 4:8 we see John’s initial thought, “Whoever does not love does not know God…” (for God is love).
There a several points that can legitimately be made here, but one of the most practical would be that it is very difficult (if not impossible) to experience God’s love at the same time as having one’s heart generating feelings of strife, judgment, and unkindness for one’s “neighbor.”
Therefore, if a person is having difficulty experiencing the feeling of God’s love for themselves, they may need to examine their personal relationships.
How I Experience God’s Love
It’s been my experience that I personally discover and feel the sense of God’s love for me (and others) as I ‘juice’ the Scriptures.
Yep. Juice the Scriptures. That’s actually a process that is better known as ‘meditation.’ I love what Cable, a friend of mine, says,
“If you meditate, you won’t need to medicate!” Although I’m not advising that anyone should stop taking their prescribed medication without their doctor’s supervision, there’s some real wisdom in Cable’s quip.
Juicing the scriptures is using the intention of your heart and your mind to squeeze the verse or passage of its nourishment.
It takes both mind and heart working together (asking for the help of the Holy Spirit) to get fresh ‘juice’ that will help your spiritual health.
It’s important that the ‘meditator’ is not simply trying to reenforce already established opinions of what the scripture is saying, but allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal something fresh and helpful.
Many Methods of Meditation
As in so many things, ‘one size’ does not fit all on the topic of meditation. There are many forms and ways to meditate. In fact, being a person that seems to ‘get bored’ easily when doing the same thing over and over, I tend to use the method of meditation that ‘feels good’ at the moment. I guess that makes me an ‘intuitive meditator’ (if that is such a thing).
One of the basic principles that will apply to most meditation practices is to do something that quiets one’s racing rational thoughts. I personally like to listen to some pleasing instrumental music (on low volume) and focus for a few minutes on slowly breathing and ‘soaking’ in a feeling of gratitude, joy, or peace. I also like to hold or focus on the thought of ‘Abba’ (Father) as I’m feeling peaceful, grateful, or joyful.
If another thought tries to catch my attention, I don’t try to make it stop forcefully. Being aggressive only gives the unwelcome thought more power to remain. Instead, I just pull my attention back to my feeling and word and let the renegade thought drift on by. If that doesn’t work, I’ll jot down the intruding phrase on a piece of paper, and then return to where I was in the meditation. Jotting down the thought tells my mind that I’ll deal with it later. Somehow, psychologically, that does the trick.
Then, after a few ‘quieting’ minutes, I turn my attention to a Scripture word or passage. In this case (experiencing God’s love), I begin to ‘juice’ the words of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 because that is where Paul reveals the characteristics of love.
Btw…if you look at the statements seriously, you’ll realize they are impossible to accomplish without the energy and life of the Holy Spirit working with you.
The first word description of love is the word, ‘patient’. For the next few minutes I’ll ponder what it means that God is patient with me. Actually, that is often a difficult one for me to internalize. I find that I am, typically, very impatient with myself. I need to ponder that He is supremely patient with me to override my own self-condemnation.
The next thing I will think more deeply about is how He is patient with others; especially the ones I’m particularly impatient with at that moment. I don’t think in terms of judgment on myself for being impatient with them. I simply let the Spirit speak to me about God’s patience with me and them…and give it time to ‘turn on a light switch’ within my heart.
I will often then ask Holy Spirit to ‘meld’ God’s heart of patience with mine so that I can feel as He feels. Sometimes it takes awhile for a transformation to take place in my heart. In fact most times it takes awhile. But, it’s important to keep giving the Lord the time to transform me as my mind is being renewed on whatever the specific subject might be.
Another trick: Change the word Love to God. Add the words with me…and with (whoever).
Experiencing God’s Love
Many times people are far too general in their approach to knowing the love of God. It’s just a concept without any practical specificity. And, I believe He really wants us to develop very specific understandings of His love and what that love looks and feels like. We’ll never understand it all. It’s infinitely wide and deep. But, the meditative diligence is very rewarding. I mean VERY!
Do you want to experience more of God’s love?
Juicing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 may just hold and important key!
Do you have any other methods to share? Please add them in the comments!