Posts tagged “self-discovery

Day 4: Favor

Posted on 28/07/2016

I experienced favor yesterday, starting with a phone call followed by another. Currently jobless and seeking, I was pleasantly surprised when recruiters called about my resume, discussing jobs I’d applied to weeks—even months ago. Then it continued with a parking spot in a lot supposedly filled to capacity with cars were parked on the side of the street. I’d circled the corner and there it was, an open spot sandwiched between two trucks, waiting for me. With a grin, I parked my car in this perfect spot my Beloved Father had reserved for me.

I remember a conversation I had with my younger sister months ago when she had an interview at her current job. She’d prayed about this job for months (it was her heart’s desire) and though she didn’t feel qualified for the position, her interview experience from the appointment to the final handshake was one of the best she’d ever had. She said, “Dee, it was like God went ahead of me and informed everyone that I was His own and they should treat me as such.”

That’s what favor is; God appointing things ahead for our good. That parking spot and those recruiter calls yesterday, plus the simple things like safety and good health—it’s favor.

Psalm 84:11-12, NIV

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.”

My heart falters a bit. This verse says that God bestows favor and honor on those whose walk is blameless. Blameless means to be faithful, honorable, and full of integrity and righteousness. God’s Beloved should be righteous and blameless. In fact, the love letter is packed with blessings and favor for the righteous Beloved of God.

Psalm 34:15, NIV

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry…”

Psalm 5:12, NIV

“For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”

My heart sinks. I am far from righteous; a wretched soul incapable of perfection. Does that mean—I stop, realizing something. A lie. Not the words from the love letter, but the lie brewing in my heart—a lie placed there from my enemy Satan. I know he wants nothing more than for me to disbelieve God’s love, to steal the good news of my identity as God’s Beloved (John 10:10). So I block out the blatant lie and flip through the concordance until I reach the New Testament. My heart beats faster as I locate the page I know I’ll find the truth.

Romans 3:21-22, NIV

“But now a righteousness from God apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference.”

Romans 3:23-26, NIV

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at a present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

I sit back and read it again. Righteousness through Jesus Christ, the Son who God presented as a sacrifice for us. Why? My heart beats faster as the truth deafens the lie completely.

John 3:16-18, NIV

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

What favor indeed! Aside from the parking spot and the chance of a job opportunity, I had already received the greatest favor of all time. Eternal life. Freedom from condemnation.

Romans 8:1-2, NIV

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

My heart leaps in my chest as I settle with the truth of God’s love. I am God’s Beloved, not because I deserve it, but because He loved me.

Jeremiah 31:3, NIV

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.”

My blush returns in full force. I am made righteous by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the everlasting love of God, my Beloved. And because I am righteous through Jesus Christ, God bestows favor and honor on me. Eternal life, freedom, and the occasional parking spot are mine due to His favor and love.

Prayer: My Father, I love you and thank you for your everlasting love. Thank you for loving me so much to send your Son, Jesus Christ, to sacrifice his life for mine. I am eternally grateful for your affection and love over me. Help me to reject the lies of the enemy. Help me to accept the truth of my salvation through Jesus Christ and remember my identity as your Beloved. I accept my righteousness through your Son, and thank you for the favor you show me on a daily basis. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

<<Day 3 || Day 5>>

Day 2: Love Stories

Posted on 11/07/2016

I am a sucker for love stories. Have always been. There is something about witnessing the union of two different people coming together because of their love for each other. I especially enjoy listening to the couple share their side of the love story, and watch the dreamy smile on the woman’s face or the quizzical yet pleased grin on the man’s face as they share how they met. I’m often in awe at the end, amazed that of all the love story writers, God writes the best ones.

As a single woman, it’s hard not to wonder when He’ll write mine. It’s often on my mind whenever I witness a love story unfold before my eyes. As a writer, I often weave romantic tales of two completely different people meeting and falling in love. It comforts and unsettles me at the same time, wondering when God will write my story. But I’m patient (though I lapse into a state of doubt occasionally) as I wait for Him to unfold mine.

So in my curiosity to discover God’s beloved, I flip through the pages of His love letter, reminded that if he can write the greatest love stories for others, His own must be amazing.

I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.

Today, this verse repeats itself in my mind. I flip to my trusty concordance and pause at Songs of Solomon. My fingers falter as a blush creeps up my neck. Songs of Solomon, the forbidden book of the Bible.

In my youth, that taboo book was never visited. And whenever the church had to reference it, which was as often as a red moon, it was referenced at weddings. An audacious pastor is reduced to stuttering and shifty eyes whenever he reads Songs of Solomon, and rightly so. It is explicit, bold and passionate.

Yet, as I hesitantly flip through the short book of love, I notice something I haven’t before. Songs of Solomon is about a lover rejoicing in His Beloved.

Songs of Solomon 6:3, ESV

“I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies.”

This refrain and many more in Songs of Solomon, speak of a passionate lover who seeks his Beloved and bride. Some who are brave enough to read this book without blushing argue that the lover is Solomon and the Beloved one of his many courtesans. I prefer to believe that the Lover is God and the Beloved is to be known.

Yet I wonder why God allowed such a passionate book to be enveloped between the vulnerable expository of Solomon and the directive of Isaiah. It seems out of place, at first sighting.

In Isaiah 62:1-7, the prophet Isaiah speaks of Zion’s restoration. He prophesies of her transformation from desolation to glory, of being called by a new name and becoming royalty. But the verses that stick out to me are verses 4-5.

Isaiah 62:4-5, NIV

“No longer will they call you Deserted or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

I sit back with a quizzical smile. Of course Songs of Solomon is placed right before Isaiah, because God has written this passionate, explicit love letter to His Beloved, Zion.

I flip back to Songs of Solomon with less hesitance now, curious about God’s passion toward Zion, a nation also known as Israel. All throughout history, he has spoken of his unconditional love toward his Beloved, even when she was unfaithful. Time and time again, Zion/Israel has turned away from God’s passionate love to seek unsatisfying affairs with gods of other nations, imbibing in rituals and religions of gods that can’t speak or save. Yet, God still beckons his Beloved back to him.

Okay, so God’s Beloved is Israel. That much is clear. I’ve known that for a while now, each book of the Bible recanting God’s unfailing love and patience toward a people he has called his own. My discovery of God’s Beloved has come to an end, or so I think.

I scroll through my concordance, to check if I’ve forgotten something. Then a verse sticks out and I flip to it quickly, a smile lighting my face as I come to it.

Hosea 2:23, NIV

“I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

It is no surprise that God has always favored one nation over another, it is written from Genesis to Hosea. God punished the “unloved ones” while showing grace and love to His Beloved for centuries. Yet in Hosea, this blessed love is shown to the unloved ones… a people outside of Zion.

My heart skips a beat and another as a truth settles in my conscience. This love letter isn’t just written for a wayward bride Zion. God’s love letter is for me. I am God’s beloved and He is my God.

I let out a laugh and allow myself to smile in the early moments of the day. Now that I am made aware of who this letter is written for (me!), I begin to look at the verses of love a bit differently, more clearly.

God is writing my love story with Him as my lover. Psalms reads a little differently, I find myself blushing through Isaiah and Jeremiah. Even Songs of Solomon makes me giggle, my heart light as I realize something. He has been calling since Day 1, perhaps even before my journey began. I had casually studied the Bible, his love letter, not knowing all long He had addressed it to me.

I am His Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.

What a pleasant surprise indeed.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for revealing to me that I am your Beloved. Your blessed and passionate words of love to those you have now called yours has become dearer to me. Thank you for accepting me as your own, for calling me yours. I pray that on this journey, I will discover who I am in your eyes. Help me to accept your love and to allow myself to be known as fully yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

<<Day 1 || Day 3>>

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