On Monday, Preston reflected on the amount of time we are spending in front of our screens. While the internet and technology provide us with the platforms we need to stay in touch and communicate effectively with each other, the darker side of our time spent on them is also a reality. A blessing and a curse. No one is immune to feelings of loneliness even when we are in constant contact (online or in person) with friends and family. We didn’t need a pandemic to come to the realization of our tendencies of numbing out and mindlessly scrolling through our feeds allowing the world to put its finger on who we are, how we find truth and more importantly how we find our worth.
Romans 8:14-16, The Passion Translation
The mature children of God are those who are moved by the impulses of the Holy Spirit. And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty,” leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of full acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!” For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!”
Abba Father says, Child, lift your head, you are mine. Neither your successes nor your failures are your truest self. The increase or decrease in your number of followers and contacts carries no weight for how I see you and the place you hold in my heart. Seek me and you will be found – every single time. Draw close to me so that I can whisper in your ear and touch the depths of your soul. Listen for me and learn the tone of MY voice, then, you will know whose you are. You will know your worth and value. And on the days when you are the most uncertain, I will bring to your recall in the gentlest of ways, a knowing that is beyond your understanding. A peace that is able to hold both your unbelief and my grace simultaneously. And in this liminal space it will be hard to distinguish between heaven and earth.
Sunday, we are singing one of my favorite songs, “Who You Say I Am”. Most Sunday mornings when we have sung this, I can barely get the words out, “I am who you say I am” without a few tears welling up. Would you please take a few moments to reflect on these words? What is most impactful for you? What word or phrase gives you energy and life? What word or phrase gives you pause? Refrain from analyzing your feelings of consolation or desolation and stay with it for a minute more.
Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?
I was lost but he brought me in
Oh his love for me, oh his love for me!
Free at last, he has ransomed me,
His grace runs deep.
While I was a slave to sin,
Jesus died for me, yes, he died for me!
Who the Son sets free, Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God, yes I am!
In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me
I’m a child of God, yes I am!
I am chosen, not forsaken – I am who you say I am.
You are for me, not against me
I am who you say I am, oh I am who you say I am,
Yes! I am who you say I am!
When we planned this service, I couldn’t help but think this a perfect song to send our graduates off with as we honor them on Sunday. I also have thought about what I have said to my kids as they are growing and experiencing all the things of life. The conversations I continue to have with Mallory in her college career and Emma as she begins her senior year this fall. (Side note: I’ve had them with Harrison, but he does this brain flushing thing where he doesn’t have any recall of words we exchanged merely seconds after they were uttered. I’m hoping the next couple of years will find him in a better posture of receiving my words of wisdom and less flushing). I’m sure you have said similar things to your kids:
As you step out into the world looking for your place, you will have many successes and failures. You will meet people along the way that will build you up and tear you down. There will be hard days and there will be desperately harder days. All of this is for your growth and healing. God and God alone, says who you are and whose you are. You are a child of God, a joint heir with Christ, and a precious vessel that inhabits the very breath of God. Beloved Child, you are loved beyond measure.
I need these words today. Maybe you do too. And on Sunday may we sing with extravagant hope and confidence in the One who made us. I’M A CHILD OF GOD – YES! I AM!