“No. No. No. I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna. No. No. No. I don’t wanna. No! No!”
That was me, Sunday July 22, 2012. Like a toddler in the midst of a temper tantrum, I feigned disproportionate fatigue over “life”, guilt-ed my husband into leaving me home to “convalesce”, and watched the family pile into the minivan headed for church.
Yes, I played hooky from church. Don’t judge me. My guilty conscience did enough of that for ten of you. I felt like a thief. Better yet, a thief caught in the act.
I knew I could have, should have hopped in that minivan. I just didn’t want to. I wanted to be left alone. I just wanted Peace. And a little quiet. And a place to lay my head back and rest…
Ignoring my guilt, I turned on Little Red – my bright red instrument of musical refuge – the iPod. Kari Jobe sang a tune like God humming a lullaby over His baby child:
You’re my beloved
You’re by bride
To sing over you is my delight
Come away with me my love
What? Who is God calling His beloved? His bride? Didn’t He know that I just embezzled time away from my own family? That I just wantonly shirked my duties as mother, wife, and member of The Church?
Under my mercy come and wait
‘Till we are standing face to face
I see no stain on you my child
Who in the world was He looking at? For this child just doused herself in self-pursuit, self-concern, and even self-pity. What in the world did He see in me?
And then…I saw something, too. There, glimmering in the reflection off His eye:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” -John 15:4
God never saw me, the wretched sinner. He ignored who I present to Him even on my best days, for I am self-righteous and proud. Yes, He looked passed all this, and gazed directly into the eyes of Christ.
“I love you, Tracey, not because of who you are, but because of who you are when you are in Christ. I love you because of whose you are when Christ is in you.” He whispered.
In Christ alone I am forgiven (Acts 2:38). In Christ I am righteous (Romans 3:22). In Christ I have abundant grace (Romans 5:17). In Christ I am alive! (Romans 6:1). There is now no condemnation for me, who is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Indeed, He saw no stain on me. He only saw His child.
John 13:23 says, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.”
I used to think this verse clearly EXCLUDED all others…excluded me. That it only applied to, “the one whom Jesus loved.” John. The favored among many. John. The best friend, the bosom buddy (literally!). John. The kindred spirit of the very Son of God. What an honored position. What an amazing friendship. What a tease!
Could John have been any more arrogant? John is the author. He described himself as this favored friend for goodness sakes!
But, then again, others recognized his favored position too. In verse 24, the other disciples, “therefore motioned to [John] to ask [Jesus] [a question].” All those around not only knew of John’s intimacy, but accepted it – without jealousy. In fact, they used it for their own gain. They relied upon it to meet their own needs and sat back to watch it work. And John and Jesus both were okay with this! Watch this:
“Then leaning back on Jesus breast, [John] said to [Jesus], ‘Lord,who is it? [that will betray you].’ Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon…Then Jesus said to [Judas], “What you do, do quickly.” But no one at the table knew for what reason [Jesus] said this to [Judas].”
Jesus just privately let John in on the biggest secret of the night: which disciple would bear the black mark treason. No one else understood Jesus’ actions save John. No one at the table knew…except the, “one whom Jesus loved.”
Who in the world was God looking at that Sunday morning in July? Was He looking somewhere else? Was He cradling me in His arms, singing over me like a wee babe, and staring off in another direction? No. He was watching as I became like John: “one leaning back on Jesus’ breast”. One desiring Jesus alone for comfort, for encouragement, and yes, even for rest.
“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” – Deut 33:12
While I wish I could more clearly capture the reflection in His eye, Scripture assures me that God did not look passed me that Sunday morning. I am the one He loves. I belong to him.
Despite my sinful temper tantrum, He looked straight into the eyes of my heart and saw not my crime, but rather my reward: who I become when I am in Christ. Whose I am when Christ is in me. I am His child. I am His delight. I am His beloved.
Under His mercy won’t you come and wait?
Till you are standing face to face.
For He sees no stain on you, His child.
You are His beloved.
Might I Pray for Us?
You alone save us. You free us. You alone impart your very nature upon us so that the Father sees only Your perfection in our eyes. We confess that we forget this Truth and attempt to live by other means. We forget that Christ in us saves us. Christ in us redeems us. Christ in us give us true life. Thank you that your Truth remains even when we fail. Give us eyes to see what you see – a beloved child.
Notes of Encouragement
Remind Me Who I Am – Jason Grey. Play this loud! Play this often! Shout this Truth from the rooftops, for Jason Grey hit a homerun. I can’t play this song often enough.
My Beloved – Kari Jobe. A love song to your soul. May it bless your heart as it did mine.