Quite a while ago I had a vivid dream. The kind you wake up and think, that was important, I need to remember that, I need to think about that…
In the dream I was in a big castle whose King was in residence. There were all kinds of people in the castle, lord and ladies, courtiers, servants of all kinds. It was actually pretty crowded. I was a servant. I had never actually met the King face to face, but would see him in the distance occasionally. I also heard what everybody had to say about the King and I was in awe and a bit afraid of the King. One day, for some reason I ended up serving in the dining hall and somehow I managed to trip and spill what I was carrying all over the King who had been standing in a group of people. I was terrified. Face down on the floor begging forgiveness. The King was not angry at all and reached down to me gently to help me up and with a puzzled look on his face said, “What have they told you about me child?”
That was it.
So, it’s not too hard a dream to interpret. I would say I was the servant and the King was Jesus. My knowledge of him was as a harsh taskmaster when in reality he was kind and gentle and forgiving.
I am not sure why my initial impressions of Jesus were of a harsh, unapproachable person. I think a lot of it was the Christian culture I grew up in. Christianity seemed to be about learning the rules and following them. Christians don’t listen to that kind of music. Christians don’t watch those movies. Christians don’t go to those places. Christians don’t wear those kinds of clothes. I remember hearing the phrase “Jesus doesn’t like it when you: have a bad attitude, aren’t thankful, say mean things, talk that way…” Yes Jesus loves you, as one song says, but you also better watch out, better not cry, better not pout, Jesus Christ is coming…Oh wait, was that Santa?
My adult life has been all about learning about Jesus as a God of compassion and grace and mercy and forgiveness and love. It’s been a long difficult journey and I think I have come so far and then some behavior or thought pattern shows me that I still have a long way to go to understand God’s love for me and walk in it.
Today someone at church asked if they could pray for me after the service as I had been on their mind all week. After the service I went up to get prayed for and they prayed for me, spoke words of encouragement and wisdom, direction. It was an amazing blessing. The one phrase they spoke over me that hasn’t left me all afternoon has been, “You are much beloved.”
What does that mean? Perhaps that God is for me not against me. That I’m not trying to earn his favor. That I am not alone. That God is someone I want to be with.
Here’s the hard part. God’s loving me has nothing to do with how awesome I am and everything to do with how Awesome he is. That is the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around, that He is that Good, that Kind, that Compassionate, that He can extend his love to me, an everyday human who is tangled up in sin and selfishness. I feel unworthy and so thankful. And joyful and wondering and hopeful and excited. And just a little bit scared. Do I dare believe that it’s true? I have heard this message before, but somehow, every time it’s brand new, once again. God Loves Me.
For those of you reading this…It’s true for you too. He loves you. Oh that you could know this for yourself. That is my heart’s desire for you.
This is one of my favorite hymns. May it’s words bless you.
O THE DEEP, DEEP LOVE OF JESUS
1. O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Thy glorious rest above!
2. O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches oer His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth oer them from the throne!
3. O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best!
Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
Tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee!