Sunday, February 14, 2010

The difference love makes - A Valentine's Day reflection

I do most of my study and work at my office in my house. The office is
located in my bedroom, looking out the window with a great view of the
backyard. It wasn't until recently that I moved my office back to the
bedroom so that I could have a bit more privacy during the day, but also
make some room for guests in our office now guest bedroom. Just outside my
window is a bush. I am sure it has a name, but I am not sure what it is
called. But, on this bush, during this time of year, there is a lot of
activity on the bush, most especially by birds. I am not an avid bird to be
honest but I am often struck by the birds that feed on this bush, such that
I will stop what I am doing to just gaze and appreciate God's amazing
creation.

A few weeks ago I was looking outside my window and I saw the most beautiful
bird I have ever seen. It was yellow and blue and black and shiny (I have no
idea what is called). I was just completely struck by this bird. I was
stunned, speechless and completely enraptured. I didn't dare reach for my
camera because it would be gone before I got back. I didn't want to miss a
second watching it. And the thought came spontaneously, suddenly,
surprisingly, a question that I asked of the bird. It was a question that I
didn't really plan on asking nor was I really looking for an answer,
obviously. I asked in a kind of question-statement, "Do you know how
beautiful you are?"

And then he flew off.

The question lingered in my mind even after the bird was gone. The depth of
the question turned me inward.

It hit me, just as spontaneously, that perhaps that was also God's question
for me.

Do I know, uh, how beautiful, God thinks I am? (Not a question we often ask
ourselves, especially men.)

It is phrased differently than I have ever asked myself before, but it is
the same question that I have struggled with off and on my whole life.

Am I really beautiful in God's eyes?

Is God pleased with me?

Is he happy with me?

And if He is, is that enough?

Do I know how beautiful that he thinks I am?

Maybe this verse captures what I think I am wondering about:

Isaiah 62:2-5 - 2The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings
your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord
will give. 3You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a
royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My
Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and
your land shall be married. 5For as a young man marries a young woman, so
shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so
shall your God rejoice over you.

Does God delight in me?

Does God rejoice in me?

Here is another verse that stagers me with its implications (I love the NET
version here):
Zephaniah 3:17 - 17The Lord your God is in your midst; he is a warrior who
can deliver. He takes great delight in you; he renews you by his love; he
shouts for joy over you."

Does God really shout for joy over me? Really?

Lastly, a verse that is sure to humble:
Psalm 149:4-5 - 4For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the
humble with salvation. 5Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy
on their beds.

Does God take pleasure in me? In me?

It seems to me that this question has to be answered before we can be freed
from seeking approval and significance from the world. The reason we seek
our significance from the world is because we don't really believe that God
loves us. We have this innately place need for love and when it isn't felt,
we seek for it until we find it. So, when we don't sense his delight, we
go to other places to find it. We may know it with our head, but we don't
believe or feel it in our heart. We haven't experienced it. Could this be
one of the reasons why we need to become like children, that God knows we
need to desperately seek his approval and not be satisfied until we know it
so that we can be free from needing the approval of the world. We can be
freed from the ever-fleeting approval that stunts our ability to experience
the blessing, honor and productivity that a humble lifestyle brings. Love,
true love, is the freer of all self-fleeting chains. And perhaps, we have
never considered that despite our sin, our rebellion, our continual
straying, that our dear Jesus laid down his life so that we could actually
know his love, grace and approval. It was his love that led him to the
cross, and it is love that is continued to be poured out on us through His
Holy Spirit. He loves us. He really loves us. He loves us like we love
our children. And despite our refusal to rest in His love, we continues to
love us. Ultimately, we love because he first loved us. We will love when
we know He loves us.

What could someone do who knew they were really beautiful in the eyes of the
only one that matters?
How would it change your life if you knew that God truly delighted in you?
How much would your life change if you really knew you were loved?

Find someone who loves deeply, unconditionally, and self-sacrificially and
you will know just how much knowing God's love for you could change you.

2 comments:

Ben said...

Thanks Steve. I think in a lot of ways believing that God delights in us is very close to the question of how much do we trust God. Can we believe He delights in us when we are going through something insanely difficult? Do we trust that His delight in us is also combined with trust that He has our best interests in mind? How do those two combine? Trust an delight.

Thanks again. Wish I could help with the bird... Wikipedia has a crazy large list of "Bird of Zambia" though if you want to put in the work to dig through it to see if you can recognize the bird you saw. (Then we can all call it by its Latin name!!! (joke))

~Ben

CC said...

Steve, I really enjoyed this post. I didn't make it to church today because I'm sick, and was checking up on your blog and read this. It was a great substitute for hearing a message in person.

Do either of these pictures look like the bird you saw?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brown-throated_Sunbird.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Merops_apiaster_(Marek_Szczepanek).jpg

-Cami C