BY MARTHA CHEVALIER
"And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'”
(Mark 1:11 NRSV)
Knowing and experiencing our own belovedness is one of life’s most arduous as well as essential journeys. The genesis of real life must flow out of this one reality. Anything short of that, over time, ends up being a dry riverbed, an empty hollow cistern. Jesus had his Father's affirmation, solid and sure.
I wonder, did hearing the Father's voice produce something weighty in Jesus, preparing him for what lay imminently ahead? Did hearing the Father’s delight prepare and sustain him in the crucible of the Sinai desert, empowering him to overcome real and pressing temptation? I imagine that he heard the Father's words of love echoing in his quiet solitary hours of prayer. Could this be the bread Jesus referred to when He spoke of “food to eat that you know not of?” (John 4:32).
His Father expressed supreme delight in his Son, even before a single miracle was performed. How much of our lives are spent seeking the approval of others? How many common idols do we bow to seeking solace from our weary, anxious, and troubled souls? If only we would quickly default to a run, leaping or whimpering, toward our Father’s all-out embrace.
Do you think Jesus needed to hear his Father's voice of love and approval? We all desperately need to hear it, don't we? And if we aren't hearing it from Abba Father, we’ll doubtless be seeking it from other places. We might seek to hear it from our own efforts to ‘do good’ and to ‘be good.’ I'm so glad we don't have to earn the approval of God. Remember the flower game: he loves me, he loves me not? Maybe the next time you find yourself in a field of flowers, try this new version of the game… He loves me, He loves me, He really loves me! And He likes me, woe.
In the wildly extravagant mercy of Jesus Christ, we gain access to our Father's throne and good grace. And when we slip and fall, as we surely do, or make mistakes, or try to earn approval, or even seek to prove our worth with frantic self-effort, next time, take pause and remember the words uttered above: “You are my beloved, in whom I take delight.” One of God’s names is Emanuel, God with us. Sometimes so hard to believe, He WANTS to be with us. If His eye is on the sparrow, it’s certainly upon you and me.
“The Lord your God is among you; He is mighty to save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).