GIVING: “It is sad to see that, in our highly competitive and greedy world, we have lost touch with the joy of giving. We often live as if our happiness depended on having. True joy, happiness, and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others”. And our gift of ourselves is hardly ever what we can do, rather it is who we are. I’ve learned this is especially true on the mission field. At Naz Farm we were sent to an old lady’s house to paint and do some yardwork. Well the work wasn’t nearly as important as taking the time out to sit awhile with Granny B. She took great joy in watching us savor her famous grilled cheese and laugh hysterically at her stories. If we had gotten too caught up in the work, our mission would have been cut short on joy. But we were more able to bless by the fact that we cared about who she was as a person than caring more about the work we needed to get done. And if we slow down and spenda little time becoming the beloved, we are more in tune to that voice saying “slow down, give a little of yourself to this person…they need My joy today and I am sending you to deliver it.” There is no greater joy than to be a beloved servant of Christ.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
“You are my beloved, on you my favor rests”
I bought a book for my friend called Life of the Beloved by my favorite author, Father Nouwen. However, placing an unread Nouwen book in front of me is like placing a glass of wine in front of a true Italian. The indulgence is inevitable. So I started reading and was once again taken away by his insights and his beautiful language of the love of God. (hopefully my friend won’t mind that her gift was a bit “broken in” lol.)
He talks about how one of the greatest sins of our time is self-rejection and arrogance although both are one of the same. He says, “isn’t arrogance putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid being seen as you see yourself? Isn’t it just another way of dealing with the feelings of worthlessness?” When it all comes down to it, we all fall for the lies that lead to self-rejection. We believe our boss that we just aren’t good enough or smart enough and that’s why we were not promoted or why we were let go. We believe the man who momentarily glances at us lovingly before he turns to the next that we aren’t beautiful enough for him to stick around. We believe the magazines , tv shows, and movies when they tell us that the way we live our lives isn’t the way our culture would have hoped. We believe the evil one when he places these self conscious and self rejecting lies near our hearts and if we aren’t strong enough, these lies gain entrance inside. This strength can only come from the one who created us and called us “very good”. This strength can only come from the one who made us His beloved.
We are all His beloved. But do we all believe it? If we believed it we wouldn’t be seeking attention and righteousness in all the wrong places. That is why Nouwen says we have to become the beloved in our hearts even though God already considers us the beloved. We have to focus and pray on 4 things: being chosen as the beloved, being blessed, being broken and giving of ourselves.
CHOSEN: You have to know you were chosen before the beginning of time…before you were given life He knew you and held your very name in the palms of his hands. The bible says even the hairs on your head are counted. He knows you inside and out and He loves you more than you could ever fathom. When Jesus died of the cross, He thought of You! Because you are His forever beloved.
BLESSED: Know that you are blessed. Give prayers of thanksgiving for all that He has given you and you will soon step out of the darkness and see life in a new light. Upon the realization of your blessings, you will be more fully able to bestow blessings on others. Imagine if a friend randomly walked up to you and said, “Man, I’ve been praying for you and that God will bless you with His amazing love and that you may be more aware of His great love for you today and always.”….wouldn’t that be an amazing start to a day!! But many of us are too busy or too distraught by our own “failures” to realize our own blessings, let alone bestow them upon others.
BROKEN: We are all broken. We all experience pain in our own ways and in our own hearts. No person can ever feel exactly what you feel. But God knows exactly how you feel. He has placed the heartache upon you with the hope that you can find the beauty in the breaking. For nothing comes to us without going through His Hands first. And no suffering is bestowed on us without its own individual wisdom waiting to be sought.
Now neither I nor Nouwen are saying that we should all run around with confidence knowing we are the beloved and thinking we have no need for improvement. We all need practice at knowing thyself and growing in wisdom. We all need to continually grow in love of God and love of neighbor. However, the aspects of our lives that need a little work must never bring us down into self-rejection and despair. We must look at our brokenness as ways to grow under the blessings of the beloved.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that we are so loved? Isn’t it great to become the beloved! My prayer for you is that you place all your burdens, your self-rejection, your arrogance, your insecurities and your fears at the feet of our God knowing that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” –Romans 8:39. No matter how far you have fallen away or how broken you are, God will never stop loving You. Embrace that love, let it wrap around you with its comforting joy and peace. Only then will you truly feel what it’s like to live as the Beloved.