You are precious. Precious beyond measure. Indescribably, unfathomably and eternally precious in God’s eyes.
Standing on the field of the Silverstone Recreation Association this morning, with the sound of cars warming up on the nearby racing circuit in the background, in the build up to the Big Race, we were reminded of this fact, and if I want to bequeath one thing to my daughters, I want them to grow up basking in the warm sunlight of this certain fact: God loves us SO much – to Him we are treasures of immense price.
This is not the message that the world gives us. In the world’s eyes, we will always be compared with others, never measure up to a standard that is continually changing. The world delights in pulling down those who succeed, bringing them down rather than building up. Magazine images tell young girls what the ‘ideal’ is, the media presents us with the standard lifestyle to which we should all aspire, and if we do not ….? No matter that this is airbrushed in more ways than one.
But God loves you – if you were the last person on earth, He would still love you, warts and all. The parables of Luke 15 demonstrate the power and scope of that love. The Shepherd who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to search out ONE that is lost. The woman who searches her whole house to find ONE coin that has rolled away out of sight. The Father who puts aside all recriminations (which the prodigal Son deserves to receive from Him) and puts aside all dignity too – and RUNS when He sees His son approaching in the distance, unkempt and brought low by his own pride and stubbornness – and welcomes him with open arms. What a beautiful picture of human love … what parent, whose children has strayed from the path, will not ache to have them home again?
Sometimes pride can get in the way of our human relationships though – but not so with this Father. He does not stand on his dignity, He does not want to make His child do penance and ‘earn’ back his Father’s love. He just wants to have that relationship restored – and He is the one who covers distance – literally – to make it happen. The son comes back prepared to be a servant rather than a beloved child, but the Father pushes that assumed (and arguably deserved) humility aside, kills the fattened calf and throws the hugest party ever! “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this on of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ (Luke 15 v 22-24) Nothing is too good for this restored son.
Do we deserve this lavish outpouring? No. The gulf between a perfect God and an imperfect humanity is not something we can bridge. Like an ant trying to comprehend the immensity of an elephant, we cannot even get close. We can do nothing to earn this love – but the wonder is that we do not need to. He lavishes this love on us without our asking.
‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5 v 8.) God bridged the gap. He moved – Christ came down in human form to make it possible for us to know and have a relationship with God.
So how do we respond? By huffily saying, “Well, thank you very much Mr God, but I don’t need that kind of love foisted on me?” Well, that’s one way of responding, but I don’t recommend it! We can stand on our own dignity, not risk being loved because we don’t want to risk being open or vulnerable. Or we can accept this love (unearned as it is), embrace it and be embraced by it. Up to you!
One passage that has spoken to me a great deal throughout my life is Isaiah 43 v 1-4a. Put your own name into the blanks and see what you think then.
“But now, this is what the Lord says –
he who created you, ___________________,
he who formed you, ___________________;
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honoured in my sight,
and because I love you …….”
God loves us so much that He was prepared to die for us. Christ was our ransom – the price He considered worth paying to bring us back home.
And so my prayer for my daughters, for my friends, for those who are not my friends (although it’s harder on a human level!) echoes those of Paul in Ephesians Chapter 3.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3 v 17b-19)
(All Bible verses come from the NIV.)
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