Everyday Faith

In Light of the Truth

I sat in the tiny chapel for the second night in a row.  I was hoping for a special Word for my heart alone but feared that it had already come and, unbeknownst to me, had slipped past unnoticed. Retreats are always like that for me. I come with hopes and expectations of what may come, but in the back of my mind I always fear that in my self-absorbed nature I’ll miss it.

And there were plenty of reasons I would have missed it that night. I was in a room with so many writers and speakers I admire so very much, after all, and my mind had been wracked for days with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. My writing does not command the audience that theirs does, and in their presence I became somewhat blubbery, awkward, and starstruck.

On top of that, my aching body wanted little more than to recline and sleep. Shin bruised and sore from a jaunt up a challenge course rope ladder. Head throbbing from mental stimulation and physical exhaustion. Eyes dry and scratchy from springtime allergies (though the weather had seemed nothing like spring and my chapped lips and hands could attest to it). On top of all of that, my foot was asleep. Yes, it would have been easy to miss it.

So when the speaker – my anticipated favorite of the weekend – stepped to the podium, I whispered a prayer: “Please help me to focus. I don’t want to miss what you have for me.”

As the talk began, I was soon swept away by the Spirit of God moving in and around me, faithfully carrying me away from all of that. I was in the moment, captivated by words of life and truth to the point that I – an avid note-taker – completely forgot to write anything down for chunks of time.

I nodded in agreement with the speaker’s words of God’s love for me and of His belief in me and of my calling to serve Him and only Him through my dream of writing and speaking. When the talk was over, the music began, and I undertook to write down all that has held me back from my dreams.  The tears overflowed from my tired eyes and my heart pounded in my chest. Revelation was coming.

I anticipated a Word from the Lord about my dream specifically. It was a retreat for dreamers, after all, and the emphasis all weekend was on pursuing and living out our God-sized dreams. I thought God might give me specific direction about the next move I should make for my blog, or that maybe He would show me the main point of my message to the world. I don’t know — maybe I even thought He would reveal something about video blogging or new business cards or a more eye-catching way to share my posts on Facebook. I’m not sure what I thought He would say, but I was altogether unprepared for what I heard Him whisper to my heart.

“I don’t love her any more than I love you.”

And I knew who He was talking about. I knew it as plainly as if He had said her name, because since the moment I arrived at the retreat my thoughts had been of her and those like her. They were the speakers – the writers who seemed entirely more suited to that title than I. They were the bloggers with followings beyond their own circles of loving and supportive friends. They were the beautiful and gifted and truly anointed women who had put the conference together, and I had been consumed for weeks with thoughts of how I could possibly make myself even seem to fit in with such extraordinary women.

So yes, when God told me of His equal love for us, I knew who He was talking about. What I hadn’t realized was that somewhere in my heart I actually did think that she, with her hundreds of faithful readers and incredible influence phenomenal gifting, commanded more of my God’s affection just because of who she is. It’s not that I didn’t think God loved me, or that I didn’t think He loved me as much as possible. What I thought – I think – was that He loved me as much as He could…given that I am, well, me.

Apparently I thought I could somehow be promoted to the next level – the next pay scale, so to speak – and that I would then finally be eligible for more of my Father’s love.  I would then be able to receive more of what He has for me.  It wasn’t a works-based theology so much as it was a hierarchical one.  For my rank, I thought, God loves me as much as He can.  Once I am promoted, He’ll love me more.

I don’t quite know what I thought would get me to that coveted next level, but I do think that my subconscious belief in my inferiority in God’s eyes caused much of my stress about my next steps.  My dream wasn’t about loving and serving my God the best way I could.  Rather, it was about earning something I already had.

Yes…it’s reasonable to say that God caught me off guard in the best possible way.  It shouldn’t have surprised me that what He had to reveal to me wasn’t about my place in the world but about my place in His heart.  God loves me as his daughter first – before He loves my dream or my work or my words or my aspirations or my ministry. He loves me. Me, because I am me. Me, because He made me and sings over me and says I am good.  He loves me as much as anyone, and He loves you exactly the same.

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19 replies »

  1. 3 weeks since #jtreat and my heart is now ready to read everyone’s link ups. Equal love. I am learning this right with you! Our work and worth is identifiable to the King. end of comparison games! And He showers love to us, not because of what we do or what the world sees in us, but because he can and craves us. You minister, girl, keep learning and sharing.

  2. Jessica, He does love you so and delights in you! You were such a joy to sup with Sunday morning. Your smile is contagious and you just shine! So glad you shared these thoughts with us. Funny, I think so many women were thinking the same thing and God, in his tender way, showed us othewise. We were blessed!
    Hugs,
    Kelly

    • Oh, Kelly – thank you! I so enjoyed our breakfast that morning, too – so much joy and laughter, it started my day off right AND rounded off the weekend perfectly. Thank you for stopping by, and thank you for your encouraging words. Blessings to you today!

  3. What a privilege it was to be with you that night. Thank you for sharing your experience with me there, and in your beautiful words here.

  4. “what He had to reveal to me wasn’t about my place in the world but about my place in His heart” . . beautiful. Your transparency is courageous and puts words to my heart too. Thank you, Jessica. I’m so glad to have met you!

  5. I see, dear Jumping partner, sister with my name, that we are kindred spirits in more than one way! I too have been learning this deep and true. We don’t have to earn – indeed, as you said, we CANNOT earn – what He has already so freely and truly given us. But getting that from our heads to our hearts, that’s the trick! I’m so glad to see He’s graciously showing you too!

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart, your perfect words and most importantly – YOU with us this weekend and in this post. I’m so glad I found you again!

    Love,
    Jess

  6. You are beautiful. Utterly beautiful. Soul-beautiful. You are a treasure, and your word-ministry in this place? It matters. You matter to God, sweet Jessica, and you matter to people. I am so glad that God whispered His love over you last weekend. I pray that He continues to spill out His reminders, straight into your heart.

    I love you. Shine on, Jessica. You inspire me!

    Love, Jennifer

  7. This is so lovely Jessica. And so like our Saviour, isn’t it? Because it all boils down to love and we’re distracted by all the other things. I can’t think of a better takeaway from the retreat. It’s glorious. Lovely to meet you and look forward to getting to know you better through your words.

  8. You spoke right to my heart! WOW! I’m blessed to have found my way here. I’m in awe of what you and so many others have shared from this retreat. You have inspired me! Thank you.

  9. This was a wonderful post! I agree in that the retreat was probably more for my heart than for my brain. Not that I didn’t get some great information, but God was definitely speaking to my heart! ~Frances

  10. Oh my goodness, Jessica! What a beautiful, beautiful word from God. I needed to hear it — to know it for me. Thank you, oh gorgeous woman, for being brave and courageous! You are lovely and well-loved.

    • Deidra, THANK YOU for your comment. It was a POWERFUL thing for me to hear, and even if it spoke to NO ONE ELSE it would have remained a life-changing blessing for me. God is beautifully amazing, no?

    • Aw, Sarah – thank you! I SO enjoyed meeting you last weekend, and I’m excited to get to know each other better through our blogs! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting today.

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