We came to Alberta to celebrate the marriage of my husband’s daughter. But while we are here, we wanted to bestow on her a blessing. Not a “thumbs up” for doing a good job, or throwing a pile of money at her to help her along. We can do that too. But what we wanted was to give her that blessing that is bestowed once in a lifetime, marking a special releasing of her as one under her parents authority and charging her to move into the future with both our and God’s blessing. To commemorate this special event we wanted to give her something special. She owns a bracelet that has those special beads on it. We went to the store to see if we could find something that would say what it is we want to communicate. But what a job! How could we condense all of what we wanted to express into one symbolic bead? How could one bead say how deeply she is loved, how immensely proud we are of her, how our hopes and dreams for her are now hers to find, how tremendously important it is that she seek out her Lord every step of the way?
The process reminded me of the cross. The symbol of God’s love for us. But I suddenly realized that while I might communicate love to my children as a collective, it is only when I communicate to them individually that I speak deeply, from the heart. And if I could give everything I had to provide freedom from bondage to them, I would. It is in that one-on-one, heart-to-heart, that all of my love can be poured out for them. The same way that Jesus poured Himself out for us. But not us – He did it for me. And you, and you, and you. Do you see? He was pouring out His love for me when He died on the cross. I wasn’t lost in the crowd. It was for me. Usually when we quote John 3:16, I hear: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not die, but have eternal life. I feel like His sacrifice was like a great discount at your favorite department store. Take advantage of it if you want to, but it was not done for me, Colleen. But I was wrong in the way I was hearing it. He did do it for me. He was thinking of me, Colleen, when He chose to stay on the cross to make sure that my sins were covered so I could be saved. His love for me was so immeasurable, that He wanted to communicate that to me in a special way that would show me the depth of His love and provide the freedom that I needed.
If I hear the word personally from 1 Peter 2:9 it sounds like this: Colleen, you have been especially chosen. You are a royal priestess, a holy woman, belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light! I am not a minion that God does not think of. He loves me! He died for me to show me His love and to provide life for me! I cannot ignore the things that He is asking me to do because I figure He is speaking to a group and I can opt out. No! He is speaking to me. He chose me!
His act of love provided a salvation that I could not earn any other way. It requires my thankful, obedient response. So, with Peter I echo his charge to all of us who have been redeemed by His precious blood:
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 4: 7-11