Love, Christian Style… or at least love like Jesus had in mind. Titus 2.2
‘Have sound faith and be filled with love and patience,’ Paul told Titus to teach. Be filled with love and patience ... Hmmm, do you have any idea how much God truly loves you? He looks at you as his beloved. Indeed, you are the Beloved -- much loved by God. And being the Beloved expresses the core truth of your existence.
I am putting this so directly and so simply because, though the experience of being the Beloved has never been completely absent from my life, I never claimed it as my core truth. I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness—something to complete me. Oh, so true. It was as if I kept refusing to hear the voice that speaks from the very depth of my being and says: “You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.” That of course is what God the Father said to his Son, and what I need to hear from him each day of my life.
Perhaps the voice has always been there, perhaps not. Growing up in the home of very old-school parents, in a conservative Protestant church, I do not remember being told that I was much loved by God—at least in such a way that I could ‘get it’. Or perhaps I was more eager to listen to other, louder voices saying: “Prove that you are worth something; do something grand, make something of yourself, and then you will earn the love you so desire.” Meanwhile, the soft, gentle voice that speaks in the silence and solitude of my heart remained unheard or, at least, unconvincing.
I think you understand what I am talking about. Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that amazing feeling of inner well being you desire? Don’t you secretly hope, “May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship fulfill my deepest desire”? But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always lustful perhaps anxious, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run.
You and I can stop our casting about -- We are the Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children, and friends loved (or wounded) us. That’s the truth of our lives. That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That’s the truth spoken by the voice that says, “You are my Beloved.”
Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: “I have called you by name, from the very beginning(1) You are mine and I am yours(2). You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb(3). I have carved you in the palms of my hands(4) and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child.(5) I have counted every hair on your head(6) and guided you at every step(7). Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch(8). I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you(10). You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me.”
Listen to me: God is saying to you, ‘Nothing will ever separate us – you and me.’
This has fresh application again for me, as the truths of God so often do! In a number of situations, including e-mails coming from countries I would be challenged to locate on a globe, people are crying out to be convinced of the love of God for them.
And so I close with, ‘You are the Beloved of God.’ Give yourself over to that truth; give yourself over to the lordship of the God who always has YOU on his mind, and then you will know what it means to be complete.
Some of this was drawn from The Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen, whose honesty and poetic writing beams straight into my heart.
1 From Isaiah 43
2 Song of Solomon 6.3
3 From Psalm 139
4 Isaiah 49.16
5 1 Thessalonians 2.7
6 Matthew 10.30
7 Proverbs 16.9
8 Psalm 121.4
9 Psalm 81.10, 16
10 Psalm 27