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Knowing we are loved changes us.

Love.



It happened again - twice actually in the last week. In the course of conversation, the woman I was speaking to said, "I had a pretty messed up childhood." Interpretation: the love I was meant to know, grow up in, and be protected by, was not there. This lack is tantamount to emotional malnutrition. Why, Childhood Protective Services would be called if parents starved a child! Yet no one comes to the rescue of a child who is not well loved--which may be far more detrimental.


This letter to the Philippian people is infused with love and supercharged with joy.       

Look with me at how Paul talks to them:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, [these people financially supported Paul so that he could continue to spread the gospel], being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ Philippians 1.3-10


Is there any doubt that Paul deeply loved these he had led to Christ? None at all. He loved them and rejoiced in them. True love finds its roots in God, our Father. But here's the thing--it is pretty hard to be 'filled to overflowing' with love unless you grasp in some part the magnitude of God's love for you. Do you have any idea how much he truly loves you?  He looks at you as his beloved.   


You are the Beloved. You are much loved by God.                     

And being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our 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. 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 is what the Father said to Jesus, and what I long to hear from him each day of my life.  


Perhaps the voice has always been there, perhaps not. Growing up in the home of older parents--and one overly-domineering unbelieving father, 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 relevant, spectacular, or powerful, 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 final 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 and angry, 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 don't have to kill ourselves.  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." [do you know of Henri Nouwen?]


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 beginning1  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 hands4 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 head6 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, drink that will quench all your thirst. 9. I will not hide my face from you.10 You know me as your own as I know you as my own.11 You belong to me.  


Nothing will ever separate us.  


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from my love that is in my Son, Christ Jesus your Lord.12


This has fresh application again for me - which the truths of God always do. In a number of situations, including e-mails from countries I would be challenged to locate on a globe,

-->people are crying out to know God loves them

even when they do not recognize the cry of their heart...  


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. For then you shall surely see the answer to Paul's prayer--to my prayer for you--that your love may abound more and more.   


How ya' doing? Loving others well, and expressing it? Forgiving rather than carrying a grudge? Love comes from God... open your heart to the greatest love you will ever know.


Philippians, #5



This Morning Briefing was inspired by The Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen.

Below are the scriptures referenced: 

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 107.9

9) Psalm 81.10, 16

10) Ezekiel 39.29

11) John 10.14

12) Romans 8.38-39, personalized

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