I have always liked the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The story starts with the main character, Adam, looking for a wife. He wants a wife who is "young and strong and had a lot of work in her." He wants her to be beautiful. Other than that, in his mind, one woman is pretty much like another. Of course, by the end of the movie, his heart changes.
This Adam was definitely made in the image of God as I saw Him. I could say God loved me, but the only supporting evidence I knew for that was that He had died for me. However, what I perceived was that God wanted me for my work, for what I had to give. Of course, I didn't think God was selfish. He didn't want me to give for His own sake; He wanted me to give for the sake of the world.
The first reason I had for believing this is sheer need. People are in deep need. There are the lost, those who haven't heard and believed in God. There are the poor. There are those who don't have water and food. There are the orphans and the widows. I saw an immense amount of need, so I perceived God as a Father who is never satisfied. Again, I didn't think this was wrong of God, though my heart did. I felt that the need was so great and urgent that even when I give, it is never enough, and I should give more.
I was very tired. I didn't spend money on myself. I didn't rest. I labored for the Lord. I kept giving and giving and giving to God. My prayer list grew longer and longer. I didn't read just for fun. Instead I read devotional books. I rarely watched movies. I fasted. I was both proud of everything I had given up for God and jealous of others because they had the things for which I couldn't stop longing. I remember being so hungry (not physically hungry, but longing hungry) that I prayed desperately, "Please, God, I just want something nice. Please give me something nice." Almost immediately, a friend called. That was about the only nice thing I thought pleased God.
God began to untangle this. First, He made me buy china. I had been looking at the china online for four years. I was proud of my sacrificing the china for God. I had given it up for the kingdom. But somehow, I began to feel that God wanted me to buy the china. I argued with Him, then I understood God to say, "You can't give to me anymore if you won't let me give to you." We (my husband and I) bought the china. It is beautiful, and it has helped me to see God's love for me.
God also told me I needed to learn to feast, to rejoice. Then He asked me whether my self-restrictions were working to remove desire. I had to admit they weren't. I still longed for the things I was denying myself. He told me, "I did not put desires in your heart in order for you to prove how much you love me by sacrificing them. I put desires in your heart so that I can delight you. I delight to delight you."
This astounded me. I had thought all the desires of my heart were bad, and my heart deceitfully wicked. But the God who created us very good created us with a delight in good things, both tangible and intangible. Just like I love to hear my children giggle as I tickle them, God loves to delight us. He created us with tickle spots!