The Wonder of His Loveby Nancy Stafford
Imagine what life would be like if you began to grasp the depth of God's love for you. It would change you. It would calm your fears, transform how you see yourself, and ignite your heart with love for Him and others. In thirty-one stirring reflections, Nancy Stafford offers a fresh glimpse into the many facets of His eternal love. She invites you to wade into the deep, to venture further into the mystery and majesty of His unfathomable love, to embark on a never-ending journey into the heart of God. Come. Leave the shore. Experience the wonder of His love.
- The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
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The Wonder of His Love
By Nancy Stafford
Multnomah Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2004 Nest, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneInitiating Love
We love because he first loved us.
I John 4:19
Love could not be contained. Love compelled Him. Love had to create life.
So He hurled countless galaxies into space and saturated the heavens with planets and stars. Then Love burst forth on the earth. He stored up symphonies in the throats of songbirds, splashed masterpieces across mountains, slipped secret paintings inside shells.
All that He spoke into being, all that Love created, was for you.
You were His motivation. When God created the heavens and the earth, He thought of you ... and then worked backwards. He sprinkled stars in the sky so that you could lie on a quilt on summer evenings and watch them flicker. He blew gardenia-scented breezes to kiss your face and unleashed thundering waterfalls to awaken your soul. He formed hidden reefs, secret worlds of unimagined beauty, and tucked them away in the oceans for you to explore.
He filled the earth with beauty to make His love visible. "In order that we finite beings may apprehend the Emperor," Charles Williams wrote, "He translates His glory into multiple forms-into stars, woods, waters, beasts, and the bodies of men." Man was not just the final item on a divine to-do list. Man is the pièce de résistance, the coup de grâce, the grand finale.
Before God imagined the galaxies or invented history, He dreamed of us. Infinite Love thought first of companionship; He created us for relationship with Him. After He hung the stars and the moon, spread the fields with flowers, draped the forests with green canopies, and filled the air with fragrance and music, He prepared a special place where He could have fellowship with His greatest creation.
A garden was our first home. Eden was an earthly paradise, perfect and bountiful, a brilliant reflection of the nature and love of God. In this Garden, in this shimmering, misty jewel, He wrote the message of His love, and when everything was ready, He created us from dust and bone.
For a time, all was well in Paradise. Our parents, Adam and Eve, walked with Him and talked with Him. There was intimacy between created and Creator. They were His own. Then sin entered the Garden, and with it came the Fall in every individual life. Our sin severed the relationship with Him for which we were created.
But God loved us so much that He was not willing to let us go. He still wanted fellowship with us. He still yearned for companionship and intimacy with us. Love could not give up on His beloved. "For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own" (1 Samuel 12:22).
God had a plan to redeem His creation, so in His love He sent His Son to earth. God expressed His love to us in a garden, first in Eden ... and then in another garden, Gethsemane, to show that He was still Emmanuel, God with us. Christ, the new Adam, came to undo the damage of Eden. "It cost God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things," C. S. Lewis wrote, "but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion."
What kind of God is this who would not give up on such wayward, sinful people? What kind of God would send His only Son to die so we could live with Him forever? What kind of God would create galaxies, angels, and natural wonders ... and yet stoop to love us?
"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
Isaiah 40:25-26, 28
Our God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and everything He does comes from His inexhaustible love. "Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies" (Psalm 36:5). The One who created the cosmos created me. The One who knows everything about the universe knows everything about me. The One who sustains all things sustains me.
* He sets planets in space ... and plants dreams deep within my soul.
* He spreads deserts with sand ... and sprinkles me with His cleansing blood.
* He decrees rulers and thrones ... and proclaims my heart His resting place.
* He erases nations from the earth ... and wipes every tear from my eye.
* He thunders in the tempest ... and whispers love songs to my heart.
* He covers my sin ... and unveils Himself to me.
In mountains and woods and rocks, I see God's footprint. In ocean waves and whispered winds, I hear His voice. In gusts through pines and warm desert breezes, I feel His hand on my cheek. And in a fiery sunset, I glimpse the glory of His robe.
This God of creation, the Sovereign of the universe, wants to be with us. Though we have rebelled against Him, He offers to redeem us. Though we have distanced ourselves, He invites us into fellowship. Love initiated all creation, and Love initiated our redemption. And in eternity to come, as we walk together through wondrous new creations, we will stand in perpetual awe of the wonder of His love.
* * *
Lord, I marvel that Your love is so great that even heaven could not contain it. It burst forth everywhere-in nature, mankind ... and my heart. You have become the unutterable sigh in the depth of my soul. Your love initiated everything. I could not seek You unless You first sought me. I love You only because You first loved me. Yet try as I may, my capacity to love You is but a millionth degree of Your unfathomable love for me. Help me to grasp the wonder of Your great love! Amen
Excerpted from The Wonder of His Love by Nancy Stafford Copyright © 2004 by Nest, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Nancy Stafford, author of the popular Beauty By the Book, was the costar of Matlock (Andy Griffith’s law partner) and a series regular on St. Elsewhere, Sidekicks, and The Doctors. Nancy graduated from the University of Florida and reigned as Miss Florida in 1976. She now hosts Main Floor, an internationally syndicated TV show featuring fashion, beauty, and lifestyle trends. She and her husband, Larry Myers, a pastor and musician, live on a ranch near Los Angeles, where they have created a place of retreat for artists, leaders, and "just plain folk." Nancy is a popular speaker at universities, retreats, and conferences. This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Someone once told me that a book reads well that reads you. In the book¿s Introduction, Nancy Stafford writes: ¿I need to grasp the wonder of God¿s love because my own love is found wanting. I do not love as God loves. I fall so short. Too often my heart is slammed shut, crusty tight. Even when I feel love there, I don¿t always express it, don¿t follow through with actions that embody true love ¿ forgiveness, long-suffering, sacrifice ¿ the very acts of love that God has demonstrated for millennia¿. Nancy may have been writing her own thoughts, but for a moment, I thought she was reading my mind. Throughout the book, Nancy continues to write many thoughtful pages to which I directly relate. At the end of each chapter (31 chapters) Nancy has included a heartfelt prayer, including the following: ¿Lord, I don¿t want to speak empty words when I say to others, ¿God loves you¿. I want them to see Your love in action through me. Forgive me for being self-centered. Move me out of my comfort zone. Help me to be more generous and thoughtful and sacrificial in ways that will be most meaningful to others, in ways that will reflect Your incredible love for them. Help me to love as You love. Amen¿. For me, the intrinsic value of Nancy Stafford¿s heartfelt words in each prayer is a thousand times greater than book¿s cost. When describing the blessings of God¿s love, Nancy writes: ¿This is a love streaming from heaven that confounds our every attempt to grasp it¿. I am thankful that God blessed Nancy with the wisdom to grasp His Love. And I am thankful that Nancy shared her blessings by writing this book. It has helped me to better understand God¿s multifaceted Love. If you have the desire to increase your ability to recognize God¿s love and increase your own capacity to love, then reading ¿The Wonder of His Love¿ is a great personal investment. I know that the time I have spent reading and re-reading this book will be paying valuable spiritual dividends to me for many decades.
The Wonder of His Love is one of the most moving books I have read in a very long time. Its universal themes of unconditional love and forgiveness apply to everyone regardless of race or religion. With all that's going on in the world today, Nancy Stafford has written a powerful book that will bring comfort and contentment to all who have the privilege of reading it. I only wish it were geared to a more mainstream reading audience so members of other faiths could benefit from its moving words. Thank you Nancy! I look forward to your next book!