“For this is how God loved ______________: He gave his one and only Son, so that when ________________ believes in him _________________ will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
Last week I had the wonderful privilege of assisting with the imposition of ashes at our Ash Wednesday service. It is my most favorite service of the year and I was so overjoyed to be a part of it with my church family.
This morning, a kind church member shared with me how much she enjoyed the service as well. I was delighted to hear how much she appreciated my using her name while sharing the ashes with her. She said it made her experience much more personal.
Well, that is the whole point – of everything we do. Our relationship with our Savior is a personal thing. It is the most personal, intimate and fulfilling relationship we should have.
Our Lord is not some cosmic force out in the nether regions that we have no contact with. He is real and as close as a whisper. He dwells with us and in us, and knows everything about us. Much more so than any human being ever could.
But because He isn’t here “in the flesh,” this is a hard concept to grasp sometimes. It doesn’t make sense on its surface that the King of the universe knows, cares, and walks close beside me on a daily basis. That is an idea too big for me.
However, just because I don’t fully understand it, doesn’t make it any less true. God’s word is full of His promises to remain with us at all times. But even more so, we are assured that He knows each one of us in detail. And laying claim to that reality is a wonderful place to begin our Lenten journey.
So we are going to try 2 exercises today. One is short in nature, the other longer and more complex. But both can be incredibly meaningful in our efforts to draw closer to Him.
First, take the above scripture from the Book of John. A very famous verse, you may even know it by heart. Spend the next 24 hours repeating it to yourself, but take the faceless mass out of the picture. Instead, insert your own name in the blanks. Try it. And really focus on what it says to you in that time.
Second, you might try this prayer. I pray often that God will let me see people as He sees them. It makes it easier for me to understand and, sometimes, love them. God sees us for who we really are, and He loves us, sometimes in spite of ourselves. Our flaws and shortcomings do nothing to diminish His love for us. In addition, He deals only in truth. So He can see the not-so-lovely parts of us, but He also sees our great potential to be who He created us to be. He rejoices over us and sees the best in us. He is our loving Father.
So, if you really want to know how much God knows and loves you personally, you might try this.
You are my Creator and Sustainer. I cannot hide from You. You know and see everything about me. And You love me anyway. Lord, in Your grace and mercy, help me to see myself through Your eyes. Reveal to me, what You see when You look at me. I want to believe that You truly know me. Help me to hold on to that promise.
In Jesus’ name I pray,