The word “beloved” appears in Scripture more than 100 times. That’s a lot of reps, so it must be a word worth remembering. Very often the word was used as a greeting to signify the importance of the people being addressed; God’s people. It was meant to convey the great love the Father had for all the people He created. I have two questions for you today. The first; when was the last time you looked in the mirror and thought, hey, I’m beloved? The second, when is the last time you noticed someone and thought, hey, that is one beloved person? Beloved isn’t a word that takes up much space in my vocabulary but after spending the past few weeks reading and praying with the New Testament letters, I’ve come across the word so many times I decided it was a word I needed to do something with.
It’s a beautiful word but I couldn’t put my finger on what I was supposed to be doing with it. A few nights ago, as He always does after lots of prayer and thought, God gave me the insight to this word I’d been asking for. Unfortunately the message about this word didn’t come in a joyful way. I try really hard to keep my posts light, joyful and inspiring but this day the thoughts are heavy on my heart.
Beloved isn’t just a word. It’s a concept much bigger than seven letters in a row. It’s an action, it’s an attitude, it’s a part of discipleship. I don’t think it’s simply an adjective, I believe it’s a verb. If we act as if we are beloved by our Creator we change. The fruit of that change is that we begin to treat others as if we recognize the same fact about them. This week the students of our local high school are grieving over the loss of one of their own. For the third year in a row the students and families from the two rural communities that make up our high school are learning some of life’s saddest and most difficult lessons. We are blessed to be from communities of very deep faith. Our kids are blessed by a school leadership and staff that love and support them. We are blessed by an army of community faithful who hit their knees immediately to pray for the strength and comfort of God. We are blessed by men and women of Faith who rushed in to lift them up in the middle of the pain and sorrow…again. Once more, there are those all too familiar thoughts of “why” and “if” and “what now”. A thick cloud of confusion and grief hangs, and when it lifts, everyone who was under it will be changed.
As my heart aches for Nick’s family and the friends and classmates, I realize the word we need right now is beloved. We’ll need it next week and next month and next year. If we were each to remember how completely beloved we are to the God who made us, our days would be different. If our days were different we would have a much greater capacity to help others realize how beloved they are. What if we made it a point to treat every single person who crossed our path as if we recognized they were beloved? What if we searched for the things that made people beloved before we searched for the things that made them different? Beloved is friendly, beloved is cheerful, it’s respectful, compassionate, patient and understanding. We have to “do beloved" instead of selfish, judgmental and narrow-minded. Let’s not wait until tomorrow, let’s make “beloved” a way of life starting right this very minute.
A Seed To Plant: Go on a beloved search. Start with a list of the things that make you beloved and then move on to the people you meet today. Find something beloved about every person you cross paths with.
Blessings on your day!
And from that time Jesus began to tell the people…Matthew 4:17
Can you think of something you loved to do as a child that you enjoy just as much today? One of the things on my list is listening to stories from my dad’s childhood. Even if I’ve heard some of the stories again and again I just love to listen to him. I really love it on the rare occasion when I get to sit down with my aunts and uncles and listen to them all chime in and laugh and add details the other might have forgotten. Sometimes I feel like I’m being catapulted right into the middle of the story myself. I can remember the names of people and places that were never a part of my life but their stories have been handed down with such detail and emotion I think I know. I wasn’t alive when WWII ended but I’ve heard my dad tell about that day when he was a little boy and Grandpa closed up the store so they could load up the car and drive around with a picnic lunch celebrating. I’ve never lived in the day of probation but I know stories about young men and their fast cars that carried bootleg whiskey across state lines. I’ve never known a life without indoor plumbing or electricity but the stories make me realize I’m both blessed by my abundance and absent of the simplicity and peacefulness of that time. Not all of the stories are fun, some are hard to tell and hard to hear but they are all a part of the story of my family and God’s fingerprint is so clear throughout. I’m always sad when the conversation ends. I just want to know every part of the story.
Jesus had a magnificent story, a story of heaven. He didn’t talk about it like a distant mystical place; He talked about it like it was home. His stories were rich with detail and hope. He had a way of drawing people in and they would sit at his feet and listen as long as he spoke. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to sit there and listen, to be inspired and amazed and encouraged.
A young person recently made me realize how important it is to share the stories of our life and our family and our faith. I came away from my conversation with her realizing we need to share the most important part of our story…the part that lets people know what God is doing in our lives. Some think faith is a private thing; a personal thing. What if Jesus had thought that very same thing? What if he’d kept the news of his Father private and personal and never shared the details and the emotion with his followers? What would have happened if the Apostles had kept the story of Jesus to themselves?
When you sit down to tell your stories, past and present…tell them the whole story. Tell them how God has been a part of your history, your life, your success and struggle? We can’t assume our others know about our Faith…we have to tell the story for the same reason Jesus did, to inspire, encourage and amaze.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list this week of the ten greatest ways God has been a part of your history. Share at least three of those before the month ends.
Blessings on your day!
There is a time for every season…Ecclesiastes 3:1
Sometimes when my young adult children pass through the kitchen my mind will flash back to days gone by. I had one of those experiences this week and it really put a dent in my perspective. We got another big heap of snow this week and I had yet another snow day. The boys didn’t thought and as I watched them leave for work and college classes I happened to look out the window and see the biggest snow drifts that have ever been on our lawn. There were places in the back yard where the drifts were several feet deep. As I stared at that sparkly snow I realize there were no tracks. Years ago our yard would have been the world’s greatest place to play. But as I walked from window to window all I saw was deep, fresh unmarked snow. No sled marks, no snowmobile tracks no snow angels or tunnels, forts or snowmen. As I stood there getting way too sentimental I remembered the wishes I’d made when my kids were in their snow stomping days.
I remember all too well how long it took to bundle them all up, find 6 gloves and 3 hats and 6 boots that all fit and matched (ok…so they didn’t always match). By the time they all got zipped and buttoned and tied up I was sweaty and frustrated and relieved that they were out the door! I would wish they would stay out and play for hours so I could have some peace and quiet. I remember all the energy it took to get them out there and it never failed, 5 minutes later someone was yelling from the doorway, “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom!” or “Mom, so and so put snow down my back, I need a towel!” or my very favorite, “Mom, I lost my boot in the snow hill!” For the amount of work it would take to get them out there to track up the snow, it never seemed to last long enough. I wished for them to be independent and creative out there in the snow without my help but before I knew it they would be in and the back room would be a mess of wet, cold puddles and drippy snow pants and boots. It would take twenty minutes to get everything hung and mopped up and then we’d do it all over again. Flashing back to that part of winter made that sparkly uninterrupted snow seem less sentimental.
I wondered that morning this week as I stood there staring at the snow how many things I had wished away in my life. It seems like we’re often wishing for the day when we won’t be so busy or when things won’t be so hectic or when the kids get more independent and don’t need us so much. But, are we really satisfied when that day arrives? That snow storm made me realize I should do a better job of recognizing the hand of God in every circumstance and stage of life. Life comes in seasons. It won’t always be the same, which is to say if things are hard it doesn’t mean it will always be hard and if something is simple and lovely that won’t always last either. God works through all circumstances and with each season of life there is growth and challenge and joy if we stop and look for it. There is blessing and benefit in every stage and season of life. Each one has a purpose and God has perfectly designed and arranged it to define and mature a certain part of our holiness. Little kids mean puddles in the entryway, big kids mean uninterrupted snow…each is full of blessing and beauty; I have to ask God to help me find that beauty in every season of my life. God help me find you in the NOW of my days and help me stop looking so hard for you in the “then’s” and the “when’s”!
A Seed To Plant: Say a prayer for your “present”. Ask God to help you recognize His work THIS day without comparing it to yesterday or tomorrow.
Blessings on your day!
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