It seems to me that’s the core desire of every human being. We all long to love and want to be loved in return. I don’t think there is such a thing as too much love, do you?
And how many times have you heard someone talk about having tried everything in search of anything that would fill the void in his/her life and finally how he/she found the only thing that could?
They all say it’s the same thing.
I used to work at a church with a guy named Steve.
He led the youth group. They did all kinds of cool things like play pin-the-ponytail on the pastor or fly though the gym in bungee-jumping, and pillow-fighting contests.
Once, Steve organized an art show on the topic of grace.
Another time, I met him at a . . . I hesitate to call it a church service because it was so unique. It was one of the best because of its creativity.
All over the sanctuary, Steve set up imagination stations. We took turns visiting them. In one, I held a chalice as I contemplated what Christ had done for me. Next, I sat at a table with a journal. As I added my words to it, I thought about how writing could be a form of worship. I’d never thought of that before.
Steve taught me to look for creative ways to worship.
When I drove across the country . . .
I looked for houses of prayer, like these.
And on a Friday night in Tacoma, I popped into a church that had temporarily converted the whole building into creative rooms of worship. I thought I might be there for an hour . . .
In the narthex, I took off my shoes and walked barefoot through patches of grass. I sat in one of several recliners staring at the cross hanging on the wall. Then inside the chapel, I rested in the cleft of the rock and thought about the story of Elijah in the Bible.
In another room, I stared at a wall with shelves full of vessels of every kind. I wondered about which ones I resembled and why. In yet another room, I closed my eyes and listened to otherworldly music that transported me to another dimension.
I spent the night on the ground floor in a garden filled with umbrellas, benches, swinging chairs, trellises, and a gazebo!
Everyone in the church brought house plants from home and filled the room with life. We could even hear water trickling. We were invited to think about what we wanted to leave behind. Then we released our words on paper that floated downstream like sailboats.
The next morning, I emerged into the light in search of breakfast.
When I make time to worship God, when it’s not rote or routine, but when I stop to let it take the time it takes, and when I empty myself out on God, I feel full, loved, and super blessed.
I’m never left with a want to be loved.
In Portland, I reunited with Steve and his family . . .
. . . at their church, Imago Dei, where they, too, came up with incredibly unique ways to love on God. In the middle of the service, everything stopped but the worship team. Quietly they played for at least half an hour as people prepared their hearts to come for communion alone or with a group of loved ones.
I went down front with Steve’s family. We had a special moment together as he served us the elements.
You might guess that one of the things I love about my brother-from-another-mother is his unique relationship with God. It caused me to check in with him recently and ask if he’d share what God’s been showing him lately.
These are his words . . .
In an interview, singer/songwriter and author, Andrew Peterson . . .
. . . was asked to describe himself in one word.
The question was embedded in a series of requests for single-word answers to describe various aspects of the creative life.
The pause that Andrew let hang in the air prior to answering, gave me enough time to rattle off a series of rough draft answers to the question: husband, father, Christ-follower, thinker, reader, counselor.
Then tears were jolted from my eyes when he simply and unashamedly said, “Beloved.”
I have journeyed with Jesus for over 40 years.
And I’m certain that He has been sustaining me longer than that. Being loved by God, when He knows me better than anyone else, is both terrifying and indisputably gravitational.
It is terrifying because it wrecks me time and time again.
I am invited by God to find out as I walk through life that I’m not the possessor of any good thing and that I’m worse off than I thought.
And it is gravitational because He possesses what my heart and mind and soul and body long for with every ounce of my being.
God possesses the perfect matches for my imperfect desires.
He reassembles my broken desires to be made into the image of who He is.
If it sounds like this trembling appeal is easy . . .
. . .then I’ve failed to make my point.
A follower of Jesus is not compelled in relationship with God
because it is the path of least resistance.
We are compelled
because He is the only one
who begins to make sense of the resistance.
Life, when I’ve genuinely wanted to live it well (which sadly is not every day . . . just being real) is a struggle against so many lesser affections, lesser ones that scream loudly and wear fancy clothes and promise the moon without being able to deliver even a shadow of that moon.
And when I know myself as Beloved . . .
As a follower of Jesus, I have come to an awareness that I am beloved in the messiness of walking towards Christ, with Christ dwelling in me, and fueling the ability for each step of the journey.
How much more do you want to be loved?
let His love break you
and make you anew
Thank you, Steve, for joining us!
I trust that God will meet with you over and over as you continue to seek Him in unique and special ways.
Bless you, my friend!
Related Post: He Taught Me How to Live a Life of Worship