“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me” Psalm 19:18
348 is a pretty big number. What would you like to have 348 of? I’d like 348 vacation days, cups of coffee and slices of carrots cake! I wouldn’t like 348 flat tires, papers to grade or dirty dishes to wash. 348 smiles from sweet baby Lewis would never be enough and 348 family suppers would be far too few. One thing I know for sure, if someone told me the same thing over and over 348 times, I think it would be pretty important and I’d pay attention.
In Scripture, God tells us of his love for us 348 times and yet we still don’t always believe it. We still often focus on what the world thinks and which earthly people love us more than we recall the 348 times the Father proclaims his love for us. We still often mope and pout, feeling like we’re alone and lost and unlovable so maybe today is the day we need to be reminded just how much we are loved.
We sometimes get tangled up in the notion that the Father loves us but he probably doesn’t always like us. We might be tempted to believe that he doesn’t like us when we sin or when we gossip or doubt or stretch the truth a little to make things sound a little better. We might be tempted to think he doesn’t like us so much when we waste our prayer time scrolling through social media and we may entertain the notion that he would like us more if we spent less time shopping on Amazon and more time praying or reading about the 348 times he says “I love you” in scripture. Honestly, that’s human thinking and it couldn’t be further from the truth! See, God not only loves us, he likes us, he wants us and he DELIGHTS in us. How’s that for a message, he delights in us!
God is constantly inviting us to grow in holiness…to grow closer to him. Please don’t confuse that with the notion that God will love you more when you reach some potential you establish for yourself. God created you with magnificent love before even your mother knew you existed and he has never stopped delighting in you since that very first moment. We have visions and plans and goals for ourselves and God’s love has nothing to do whether we check those things off our list. I watch my grandson with such wonder, awe and absolute delight. I notice every teeny little new thing he does and my heart just about bursts. I have visions of the kind of little boy, young man and grown gentleman he will become but I’m not going to love him more then…I’m not going to reserve my love and my delight for when he’s all grown up and has “become” something the world thinks is valuable and important. I’m going to get busy loving him and delighting in him every single step of the way. And that’s exactly the same way God loves us…he delights in us today, tomorrow, next week and he loves us all throughout our “becoming”.
If we could even begin to fathom the Fathers love for us, even the really bad days would be beautiful. Remind yourself today of the message given to you 348 times and then spend some time loving yourself too.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things you like about yourself, thank God for those things and then find a couple of those 348 places God spoke his love for you and jot them down so they can sink in.
Blessings on your day!
…and your Father who sees…Matthew 6:6
Happy Lent! Welcome to that time of year when we set out with all our hearts to grow in holiness. For me, it’s easy to look at the road to holiness and feel a little overwhelmed because I get so off track. It’s easy for me to look at lent as a time to “bear down” and do some really hard stuff to show Jesus I’m so thankful for all he did. My intentions are good but I read something today that was so very simple and so very powerful that it adjusted my thinking in a beautiful way..
One of the prayer books I was reading mentioned that three times in Ash Wednesday’s Gospel it said “The Father Sees.” Clear back in the book of Genesis he looked around and saw that it was good. How did I miss that? I’ve heard that Gospel on Ash Wednesday dozens of times and never caught that! More years that not, I set out to do some crazy long list of stuff in order to “make up” for all my shortcomings the rest of the year. Lent certainly has a penitential feel and purpose but it’s not a time to lock ourselves in a personal dungeon and be crabby and miserable for 6 weeks.
I think I wanted to do hard stuff so Jesus would see me and notice all the sacrifice and love and suffering. The author of this little article pointed out so clearly, the Father sees…he sees ALL THE TIME and he sees us with such love and mercy. It made me think of a chubby cheeked baby and how I just want to kiss their face off when I see one! I believe the Father looks at us that way every…singe…time! He’s always looking, he doesn’t miss a thing so that realization changed the way I thought about Lent this year. The point is not to get the Father’s attention; not to get him to look at me and the hard stuff I’m doing. The point is to get ME to look at HIM!
One of the things I decided to work on this Lent was speaking patiently. Sometimes people say silly stuff and it can be tough to resist the eye roll or stare or “Way to go Captain Obvious” attitude. Today was one of those days when I had many opportunities to practice this Lenten Promise. It was easier to do today because each time I wanted to react badly, I looked up first and quickly said, “Lord I see you and I will try to be like you.” The wave of patience that washed over me each time I did that was amazing.
If you’ve ever taken children to the pool, you know how many times they can say “hey watch this” in thirty minutes. That was the way I did Lent; hey Jesus, look at me I’m not eating chocolate or hey Jesus did you see that I went to an extra daily mass today, wasn’t that good of me, doesn’t that count for extra? It was almost like a giant score card and Lent was the bonus round! Now, I realize it’s me watching him. It sure takes a lot of the pressure off! My biggest Lenten task is to do the things that help me fix my gaze on him. If I’m looking to him and I know he’s looking at me, that influences my choices and attitudes; that helps me grow in holiness.
A Seed To Plant: Look at your Lenten list, what things are there that will help you look at Jesus the way he looks at you?
Blessings on your day!
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