On the eve of Thanksgiving there is not much more to be grateful for than the reality that we are loved!
This idea of being God’s beloved is not new to me. I was first introduced to the “theory” of being God’s beloved through a friend who gave me a cassette tape by Henry Nouwen titled, Solitude, Community, Ministry. I remember driving around twenty years ago listening to that tape over and over. I still pull it out sometimes, track down a cassette player, and hear his words again and again. “Who am I? I am the beloved. That’s the voice Jesus heard when he came out of the Jordan River: ‘You are my beloved; on you my favor rests.’ And Jesus says to you and to me that we are loved by the Father as he is loved.” If this is true, how is it so easy to get caught up in wanting our deepest needs to be met by people or things?
What I continue to realize more and more is that God’s invitation is an invitation into intimacy. Real intimacy, true intimacy, crazy intimacy! It’s an invitation to become fully vulnerable, fully known, fully exposed. That is scary to even write, much less live, but it is the model of God. And not only is the offer to be intimate with Himself, but to be fully vulnerable, fully known, fully exposed with a few others as well. In Moving From Solitude to Community to Ministry Henry Nouwen says,
“God has become so vulnerable, so little, so dependent in a manger and on a cross and is begging us, ‘Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you really love me?’ That’s where ministry starts, because your freedom is anchored in claiming your belovedness. That allows you to go into this world and touch people, heal them, speak with them, and make them aware that they are beloved, chosen, and blessed. When you discover your belovedness by God, you see the belovedness of other people and call that forth. It’s an incredible mystery of God’s love that the more you know how deeply you are loved, the more you will see how deeply your sisters and your brothers in the human family are loved.”
Practically speaking, as we begin to lean into the offer of intimacy, true intimacy with God, it changes the way we walk into each situation of the day. All of the subconscious questions that most of us ask when we enter a room or take on “the next thing” are already answered. “Will I be accepted?” “Noticed?” “Does my presence here make any difference?” Does anyone care that I am here?” “Will I be true to my conviction?” “Am I loved?” “Am I known?” “Am I understood?” All of these questions are already answered by the only One who has authority to truly answer them. But if we don’t get the question(s) answered from God then we will keep asking others to answer them for us. There only question worth asking is “Am I Loved?” and the answer is unequivocally YES!