This past weekend my husband John and I preached together at our church. It’s always such an overwhelming and…sobering (?), scary (?) privilege to preach and ask for God’s voice to drown out anything of “us” that might distract.
We spoke on Mary and finding joy in the midst of any circumstances. That was all fine, but then God totally messed with me.
In our sermon I shared about an experience I had had the night before. I went to a dinner celebrating the birthday and an anniversary of sorts for a dear friend of mine. Each of us gathered there brought a word or words to share that communicated some of the incredible value our friend has brought into our lives. As we shared, our words were written in gold marker on a glass hurricane with a candle inside to be a reminder to her when she lights it, that words like beautiful, effervescent, intentional, and wise advisor describe how God is using her in the world. It was a privilege to speak these words of truth to my friend.
In our sermon I said that most people don’t get to hear words of value and affirmation spoken over them by friends like that, but God desires to whisper His words of love to us every minute. Mary’s joy and peace came from the fact that she knew who she was and whose she was.
Beloved, Accepted, Redeemed, Chosen, Gifted, Held, Fearfully and Wonderfully made…
Words for all of us. Words from God meant to drown out the critical or dismissive messages we hear from the world that Satan loves to amplify. I said it’s only as we give more volume to God’s word and our identity in Him that we can find true joy.
All good when you’re telling this to a lot of other people “out there”. Ahem.
I ran home from church to host a wedding shower, cleaned up, and was sitting with John late Sunday night, when he shared some news that delivered a punch to my heart. Opened old wounds. Old wounds that I thought had healed. I thought I had become bullet-proof. Not so much.
And the voices that shouted in my ears were “unwanted”, “unvalued”, “not good enough”, “naive”!
You know, the same voices you hear when you’re reminded of the guy who broke up with you, the person who abused you, or the job you didn’t get, the tests you failed, the wife who left you, or the parent who said terrible things about you.
I wanted to crawl in a hole. And I did.
It looked suspiciously like snuggling under the covers of my bed.
But even “if I make my bed in the depths, You are there…even the darkness will not be dark to You.”*
In that darkness God found me and whispered light. “Remember that thing you told the other people this morning? Listen to Me. Mine is the voice you need to hear. You are beloved and safe with Me and that’s all that matters.”
His words drowned out all others and I fell asleep at peace.
Maybe you need this reminder today too. “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”**
**1 John 4:4