But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUES made it difficult for my father to tolerate my “naughtiness” when I was growing up. He would slap me in the face, leaving the imprint of his fingers, and then lock me in the bedroom for hours. Other times he would pick up the phone and ask the operator to send the police to come and take me away because I was a “bad little girl.” I’d promise to be good, but I was terrified that I would never be good enough.

As an adult, I transferred the fear of never measuring up to my relationship with God. Although I didn’t expect to be struck by lightning when I did something wrong, I was certain that He was not pleased with me or my efforts to be a good Christian. So, longing for His approval and His love, I would try harder, only to continue to feel like a failure.

It was many years before I finally began to grasp the difference between the condemnation of the Evil One and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit points out something that needs to change in my life, He does not leave me feeling hopeless and worthless. Today I know that God is my heavenly Father. He loves me and invites me to call Him Daddy.

Ask God to open your eyes to see someone who needs to know His love.

Marlene Bagnull celebrated fifty-one years of marriage. She and Paul have three grown children and three grandchildren. She directs two Christian writers’ conferences.