I want to ask you a question. How much does God love you? Have you ever spent a good amount of time just thinking about how much God loves you? Is God’s love for us something we can visualize and see, or is it something too big even for our own imaginations?
During the Summer, when I was working as an adventure guide at Rock-N-Water, God gave me such a sweet and beautiful reminder of how much He loves us.
I was sitting with my group at their campfire. We had just finished playing a fun game around the campfire and now it was time for a short devotion. Each night the youth leader would give a little sermon-type talk to the kids in his group. As I listened to what he was sharing, my heart began to burst with emotion at what he was saying.
And I’ll never forget one of the things he said that night;
“God loved us so much that He grew and nourished the very tree that would one day become the cross that Jesus would die on.”
Let’s let this idea sink into our heads for a little bit.
Here we see that God, even with His foreknowledge, is the one who allowed that tree to grow, to be nourished, and to be turned into a means of torture. Why? Because God knew that this tree would not only become a means of torture, but also a means of salvation for His people. God knew that to save His children, Jesus, His own son, had to die on this tree.
Now, I’m not a mother or parent so I don’t know from experience yet how deep the love a parent can have for their child is. But I can say without a doubt that if a parent had the foreknowledge of a certain object that would one day kill their child, they would do everything in their power to destroy that thing. Yet God nourished this tree and caused it to grow. Because that is how much he loves you and me.
Have you ever known or seen a love greater and deeper than this love that God has displayed for us? That God sent Jesus, His beloved son to die in our place.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
There’s one more thing to point out here. In order for us to truly understand and appreciate the amazing truth of God’s love, we need to understand this hard truth; that this tree that became the cross was what we deserved. God could have very well have grown that tree for us as our punishment for our sins against Him. And God had every right out do so, because it’s what we deserved for our rebellion against our Creator. But this is the beauty of the Gospel; that God didn’t.
Jesus, God’s Son, made the ultimate sacrifice in our place. And now this tree is made into a reminder of our salvation and His great love!
What does this great display of love mean to you? When you realize that God not only loved you despite your sins but loved you enough to put into action a plan of salvation that required the death of His beloved son, what is your response? Does it cause you to fall on your knees and humbly worship? Does it cause you to rejoice and lift up a song of praise and gratitude? Or does it simply cause you to revel in silence because understanding a love like this is not something we can easily do?
Wherever you find yourself today, I pray this can be a reminder to you that God loves you! God loves you so much and made a way for you to be freed from sin and brought near to Him. Because of the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice, you can have a relationship with the Holy and Living God.
God loved us so much that he gladly grew that tree that Jesus would hang on because he knew that death would not have a hold on Jesus. Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death for us. This is how much God loves us!
“But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13
Before closing this post, I want to jump back to the beginning where I shared that I heard this message about God’s love during a campfire at Rock-N-Water. If you ever wonder if God’s truth is being shared and if the gospel impacts lives, may this post be a reminder that it is! God uses many ways and many people to share the good news with people. Each night at camp, stories are being told, and campers are hearing God’s truth. Lives are changed when the gospel is shared and it is our prayer and mission at camp that all who come will experience God’s great love and hear the good news.
Rock-N-Water’s mission statement is “…to help people see, know, and experience God”. It is our hope and prayer that each camper that comes to camp will get to experience God and God’s love at camp. And oftentimes we see God using stories and campfire talks to do so. So take heart and be encouraged that our God is active and he is actively working in the lives of youth through camp ministry and the sharing of the gospel.