Saturday, 5 January 2013

We are The Beloved - A New Year Letter from Johannesburg

8th January 1999
My dear Ann,
Here's a thought:
'We are childen, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us - not because we deserved His love and not in spite of our underserving; not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because He has chosen to love us. We are children because He is our Father and all our efforts, fruitful and fruitless, to do good, to speak truth, to understand, are the efforts of children who, for all their precocity, are children still in that before we loved Him, He loved us, as children, through Jesus Christ our Lord.'
                                                                  Frederick Buechner, 'The Magnificent Defeat'.
We often forget or choose to misunderstand  the true nature of God's love for us; His grace, given to us not because we've earned it, or deserve it, but simply because He created us to love us.
This last week, I've been trying to come to terms with my own belovedness before God. He is showing me how valuable I am to Him; and reminding me that I do not have to perform to impress Him. And if you are like me, and I know in many ways you are, you too need to be reminded of the special position you occupy in God's heart. I borrow the words of Henri Nowen and tell you today, "All I want to say to you is, 'You are the Beloved,' and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being - 'You are the Beloved.'"
This is a reality that we Christians should take hold of and refuse to let go; for as Brennan Manning writes, "Anchored in this reality, our true self needs neither a muted trumpet to herald our arrival nor a gaudy soapbox to rivet attention from others. We give glory go God simply by being ourselves."
I pray that this may be a year like no other when it comes to glorifying God. For me, I am tired of lukewarm Christianity; I have returned to my First Love. Remember how I told you that I had abandoned my search for a spouse. Well, the real reason I did so was that God asked me a simple question, "How exactly do you propose to succeed with a second love when your relationship with your First Love (Jesus) is on the rocks?" And so I decided that having a relationship was not a priority. I am casting my eyes and all my attention upon Jesus; I am giving Him all the gifts and talents He gave to me and making them available to Him to use them as He pleases. I am upping the stakes and sticking to biblical standards in my life. You know I was reading the other day how Christians make the mistake of comparing themselves with the world and if their morals compare  better, they feel OK. Well, the trouble is that the world's moral standards are perpetually on a downward spiral; and so what was the world's standard yesterday becomes the Christian standard today. And the Church has become even more powerless because we've let ourselves be dragged down by a dying world as we have pegged our morality to its scale. We should stick to and strive for biblical standards because they never change.
I hope your fasting is going well. Mine's great. It has enabled me to focus on God and pray like never before. I thank you for inviting me to Victory (Christian Church in London) those two times, especially last week - it has really opened me to a fresh and practical understanding of fasting and prayer.
As for the Maya Angelou book (that I forgot at your house), I wouldn't worry about it. If you do find the time to read it, please do; but if not, don't feel obliged to read it just because you happen to have it. I shall pick up where I left off when I next see you.
Well, that's me being remarkably preachy again. I hope you don't mind. Sharing my faith, and some of these lessons, helps to make them real to me. And I do hope that you find som of the insights useful.
I conclude by urging you, my sister, to continue to be prayerful; for a prayerful heart is a heart in tune with God. And always remember "it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Phil. 2:13)
An anonymous poet writes:
They tell me, Lord, that when I seem
To be in speech with you,
Since but one voice is heard, it's all a dream
One talker aping two.
Sometimes it is, yet not as they
Conceive. Rather, I
Seek in myself the things I hope to say,
But lo!, my wells are dry.
Then, seeing me empty, you forsake
The listener's role and through
My dumb lips breathe and into utterance wake
The thoughts I never knew.
And thus you neither need reply
Nor can; thus, while we seem
Two talkers, thou art One forever, and I
No dreamer, but thy dream.
May the Lord continue to watch over you, dear Ann, as your feet continue to walk in obedience to His will.
Love in Christ,

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