I don’t remember a day in my life that I did not believe God really and truly loved me.
I knew it to be true, because He told us in a thousand different ways throughout His life, and throughout the history of the world, that He did and does love us all. I don’t expect everyone to believe the way I do, or why, but I can’t imagine an argument that would change my mind.
But it has never been a question of truth.
The question has always been, and probably will always be, Why?
Why would the holiest of all, blameless and just, love me?
I mean, sure. I’m cute as a button (sometimes) and generous (usually) and helpful and encouraging and supportive to my surrounding community, and kind in most instances. I don’t pull the wings off of flies, trip old ladies, or play keep-away from the shortest kid on the playground. I’m in the “happy to set up and clean up” group, and “of course I can” frequently disrupts my own plans to benefit the greater good. Yeah, good for me.
As long as I can remember, though, I have wondered why God would love me. I am painfully aware of my dark and unloving side and the secrets I’d never tell my mom. I remember the snarky comments I’ve made and the back-stabbing alliances I’ve formed. I have dealt in the currency of gossip and assumed the safe position of Bystander when I should have stepped in as Protector. I know that I’ve cheated and lied, but not been caught. And I have settled for legal, because choosing right would have been harder or more costly.
Every single day, I am tormented by visions of what I have done in the past and how I continue to make the same mistakes.
I just don’t get it… Why would God, with all of His options, bother to love me?
And then I hear the words of the song we talked about in the Second Monday blessing – 2021, O Holy Night. That fourth line – good golly, Miss Molly…
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,from O Holy Night, English lyrics by John Sullivan Dwight, music by Adolphe Adam
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Why do I keep getting stuck in the middle of line 3? Why do I “lay in my sin and error,” pining over relationships with behaviors long forgiven and mostly forgotten?
My lovelies, as I read these lines, over and over and over, a sense of peace washes over me, realizing for the first and millionth time that He really does love me. That I have value in His eyes.
That He believed I was worth the sacrifice begun on Christmas Day and completed on Easter Day.
That He still believes it.
I am perplexed that so many in the Church and the church think that God can be all figured out – and that, by and large, we’ve done it. His greatness beyond our understanding is quietly acknowledged, but there are few questions, other than those prompted by various seemingly-contradictory texts or current social controversies. And most of those now have cut-and-dried answers, based on selected scripture and disparate theological foundations.
I’m not mad about that. We can’t expect others to see everything exactly the way we do. The world is too complicated.
But it does make me sad.
I am sad that the great mysteries of God play almost no role in the way we think or act. Although we have been enlightened about and by many of His characteristics, we see only a fraction of His wonders. I wish we would live in a constant state of awe and anticipation, waiting for a glimpse of majesty, a simple whisper of nature’s splendor, a small miracle of growth or change.
I wish we were thrilled by hope in this weary world and that we felt the comforting weight of God’s love for us.
Nadia Bolz-Weber (whose book Accidental Saints, finding God in all the wrong people is on my top-5 list and will remain there probably forever) spoke at a virtual conference I recently attended. I won’t soon forget her humble words:
I feel that God loves me and that’s the great mystery.
And so today, the third Monday of the season, I pray for you the blessing of experiencing that thrill of hope and God’s limitless love for you.
Until next year, I pray for you
photo by aKs_phOtOs