There are certain basic truths I always come back to.
These truths form the foundation of my life, the rock on which I stand and the rock to which I cling.
One of those truths is this:
God loves me
It’s one of the the Sunday school truths that soon grows stale and cliche if you don’t understand it. It’s one of the Sunday school truths that can SAVE you if you let it.
MORE than a TOOL
A common prayer I lift up, especially when serving God in some public way is,
“God use me as your instrument.”
It’s a basic, standard, vital, grounding prayer. This is our part. To offer everything––all we are, all we have––to God. Why? Because He’s worthy of it. He is GOD. He made us. He alone fully understands us. We are only alive in connection with Him, we are only satisfied in communion with Him, and we only function properly in complete submission and surrender to Him.
(We don’t always understand these truths or believe them in our hearts, but they remain unchangeable facts.)
But while God would be completely just in silently receiving my offering of myself, He never does. God DELIGHTS in it. And He comes back with this reply:
“I will gladly use you. But you are much more than a tool to Me.”
MORE than a SERVANT
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
– Psalm 84:10
I’ve been coming back to the story of Martha and Mary lately. As you may recall, while Martha was busy hosting and serving Jesus, Mary sat at his feet enraptured. Martha was being practical, Mary woefully impractical. Yet when Martha told Jesus to tell Mary to help her, he said Mary had chosen the better portion.
“Only one thing is needed,” he said. “Mary has chosen what is better, and it won’t be taken from her.”
I’m a bit of a dreamer myself, so I can relate to Mary. Who wants to deal with practical things? Sometimes I choose the simplicity of being at his feet, and I relish my choice and his defense of it. But just as often, I seem to find myself pulled back to the state Martha was in that afternoon. Busy. Occupied. Anxious. Burdened. Consumed with the practical. Resentful of those who aren’t helping.
Even while serving God, which seems like just about the best thing I could be doing, I find myself missing the mark.
What mark? What am I missing?
Serving is not always the same thing as loving.
God could care less about collecting servants. He seeks intimate relationship.
“Oh Martha,” He has been saying to me lately. “Don’t you know only one thing is needed?” It is sometimes difficult for me to believe He wants me and not my service.
(Why is receiving love so hard?)
MORE than a PERFORMER
I learned the art of performance at a young age. Not just as a classical musician, but as a person. I learned to be what people wanted me to be, to hide what was inside. Often it is easier to give people a performance, rather than yourself. Hiding your true feelings can sometimes be an act of consideration, but it can also make you feel incredibly alone.
But God says something different.
God says I never have to perform for Him. I never have to pretend. He wants me.
My emotions often feel like inconveniences. They are impractical, unreasonable, unhelpful. But emotions are an important part of what make us human. And they are part of what make us like God.
One of the most amazing things God does is when He sees past the mask I’ve put on, when He pulls back the veil I’ve used to shield even my own eyes from my true condition, when He simply says, “You’re sad.” Even though the revelation isn’t an exciting one, relief and wonder wash over me at simply being known.
He knows me, even at my worst. And He wants me. The Holy One, the Perfect One, the One who is complete in Himself and is not in need of anything I could offer, chooses me. Will I ever understand it? None of my failures surprise Him, none of my sadness overwhelms Him, and none of my struggles tire Him. Whatever comes, God and His love remain the same.
Even though all around me and inside me crumbles, yet, still, His love remains.
Dying to yourself is Christianity 101. Putting others first. Not being self-centered. Choosing love.
Sometimes love means going against your natural inclinations. It requires holding your tongue when you want to lash out or following through on commitments you don’t feel like keeping. You must consider the bigger picture, not just yourself.
But there is this amazing truth that intersects, surrounds, and underpins the requirements of sacrificial love:
God loves you
That changes everything.