This week, in my times of personal devotion, I have been focusing on some of the people that were chosen by God despite their obvious shortcomings. This has largely been centered around Mary’s song of praise, which contains the powerful statement that she is God’s servant and that He can do with her as He wishes.
This morning, I read an excerpt from Life of the Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen:
Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do. It entails a long and painful process of appropriation or, better, incarnation. As long as “being the Beloved” is little more than a beautiful thought or a lofty idea that hangs above my life to keep me from becoming depressed, nothing really changes. What is required is to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about and doing from hour to hour.
I have a friend in the Philippines who, I think, has forgotten that she is the Beloved. In her high school days, she was a fiery radical, pushing for reform and leftist ideals. Her passion was transformed, though, and as she entered Bible college, she began to have a deep heart for meeting people’s practical and spiritual needs at a very grass-roots level. As I read her blogs now, though, I see a young lady who has lost that flame. She now confesses only to a belief in God and she is letting her lifestyle spin out of control. I once saw a great deal of security in her as she rested in God’s plan for her life. Now she seems to have forgotten that she is the Beloved and is seeking her security in things that can never give it.
It’s painful to watch a friend make those decisions, but it’s also painful to think about how I have made those decisions–how I still sometimes make them. Jesus said, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” As Steve Taylor paraphrased it, “Jesus is for losers.” It’s exactly for people like me that Jesus came. Yet, I fail to remember that Jesus loves me in my brokenness, my weakness, my failure to live up to both His standards and mine. And when I forget those things, my tendency is not to run to Him for strength but to hide from Him. I hide because I forget that I am the Beloved.
Today, I want to be different. I want to live life based on the way God sees me, not on the way I see myself. I want to live like the Beloved. I want that concept to be not just a feel-good platitude but a foundational principle that shapes my every decision.