This one hit me hard about a month ago. I am just now ready and willing to share it with you.
First, another confession that I stole (though I prefer the more civilized word, “borrowed”) another book from my mother-in-law’s library last time I was in Vegas. If you recall, I “borrowed” another book of hers called “All to Jesus” that kept me from unraveling when my son was hit by a car last year.
This one is called “Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus” by Brennan Manning. I have grown to love his “almost mystical approach” to the Gospel. Check out his books and absorb a fresh understanding of God’s passionate pursuit of your heart.
Ok-so here is what I read that got me all befuddled and to be honest, ashamed of my first response to the question he posed on that dreadful page 35:
“Imagine right this moment that Jesus walks in the door, comes up to you, looks you squarely in the eye, and calls you by one word.
What is that word?
What is the word that God knows you by, that is the entire sum of God’s knowledge of you and relationship to you?
It will define your whole being.
Is it a condemnatory word, a judging word, a congratulatory word, a word of affection?”
What was my word? Hmmmm…..
I had to think a bit on that. And even though I have several words that I knew should be my go-to answer, churchy words like beloved, forgiven, blessed child, I would be lying if I said I owned those words as I wish I did.
After contemplating my word, I narrowed it down to a few different synonyms for the phrase, “bless her heart” (“she is trying so hard, but is sort of a hot mess most of the time”).
The word I heard in my head was a more “Jesusy” version of “Exasperating.”
I wouldn’t dare accuse God of being disappointed in me. That seems out of character for Him.
But Him thinking I am “Exasperating” seems like the problem is on my end. Like He’s trying to be nice/godly about His frustration with all they ways I screw up, fail to follow or trust Him, talk smack about His children right in front of Him, and live in self-will the majority of my days.
But luckily, Brennan wasn’t done with me. His next question was:
“Now imagine that the human person who loves you and knows more about you than anyone else in the world does the same thing. This person is known to you by the constancy of his or her relationship to you. Through thick or thin, he or she has stuck by you, though this faithfulness has often been tested. When that person says the word by which he or she knows you, what is it? Is it he same word by which Jesus knows you?”
Before I answer, I have tell you quick story.
Several years ago my husband and I were doing some fairly intense counseling at a life-breathing place in Colorado called Blessings Ranch. We spent the majority of our 4-day-stay in therapy or hiking the canyon and cliffs.
After one morning session, my husband was asked to “stay after class.”
Later, in telling the story to some good friends of ours, he said that while the therapist concluded that Blake could use some additional one-on-one time, apparently he thought I was “delightful.” 😂
It has been a running joke with said friends for more than 10 years.
Just last night, I heard my sweet and lovely girl-friend call me by her word for me: Delightful.
I quit arguing with her about the validity of that name quite some time ago. It wasn’t worth it. She just kept insisting.
I am sure you are way ahead of me-but if she can continue to call me by me such a word, having experienced my shortcomings and character defects as a mere human, how much more can I trust God, who created me,
knows me to my core,
and sent His son to cover the space between all that I actually am and what He makes me into,
to call me by the same: Delightful.
It’s extremely hard for my to wrap my mind around that possibility.
Delightful is very different from Exasperating.
If He finds me delightful, that makes my heart a little happier and lighter and ready to spend time with Him.
I always look forward to seeing my friend who calls me by this word, because she props me up and embraces who I am wholeheartedly.
I would prefer to spend time with a Being who feels happy to see me and is delighted to spend time with me.
If I feel like I am coming to Jesus with a sense of failure or with my tail between my legs, it stands to reason that I might hesitate or feel defensive in my posture; Like I am fixin’ to get schooled.
Regardless of what I own as God’s word for me, I urge you to rethink the word you have decided He has for you versus what word He might give you based on how much He cherishes you.
Brennan ends with this:
“I do not think we are truly ourselves or truly whole until we have heard that word from another human being. For must of us, deaf and full of preconceptions about ourselves, the word must be spoken repeatedly before we finally hear it. It penetrates only when we are absolutely convinced that it is being said by someone who knows us thoroughly…It even makes God happy because another person has heard and accepted the love He has for us.”
I urge you to listen for and find God’s WORD for you today.
“That word is the sweetest sound you will ever hear.”