You are mine. My masterpiece. I knit you together inside your mother. I watch you grow. I enjoy working with you, and I keep shaping you. I gave you a body, spirit, and soul; a mind for thinking and for feeling, and a unique array of traits and of gifts to discover. I made you in my own image, and You will live forever with me. You are my treasured child!
It delights me to lift up my face and look at you. I enjoy each time you look back at me in love. And I see you learning more and more to share our love with your family and neighbors. It makes me so happy! I love them, too.
I love you so much that I gave my beloved Son Jesus, who cares for you as I do and gave his life for you. Because of Jesus, you may keep on living, no matter what happens in this world or whatever happens to your body. Your life is so much more than your body! Your place in my universe is so much more than this world!
Put your confidence in my Son and me. Learn to live the way we live! Receive our love. Be filled with it and let it overflow to everyone else in your life.
Keep trusting us. We have blessed you with our plan for your life, and it is a great plan! In our plan, everything will work out for good for you. It works out that way for everyone who receives and responds to us in love; everyone who hears our voice and lives according to our purpose.
We love you and will take care of you. Our Holy Spirit is by your side to help and comfort you. You are never alone. Your life is surrounded by the three of us! We always love each other, and we always love you! Your life is surrounded by eternal love! It cannot be taken away by anything in life or in death. When you went down into the water of baptism, it meant that you entered into a life immersed in our life. Your life is in ours, and we are in yours.
Enjoy our love. Let it grow and produce wholeness, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. You are like a beautiful branch, growing out of Jesus. Stay there. Receive nourishment and strength from us. Produce flowers. Produce good fruit. Soak in the light and rain that we provide! Endure some shaping and trimming. We love you too much to ignore your growth and health. Discipline can be painful for a time, but it is for blessing you and blessing others through you.
Live with us. Live eternal life. It is a joy to have so much time together in this day and forever. We have only just begun to show you the glory in us and in all that we make. You have only begun to realize the joy of talking with us, really sharing life with us, and learning the beginning of union that is pure bliss. We love and enjoy each other perfectly, and we are bringing you into that kind of love and joy.
You have only begun to see the wonders of the universe. It has been fun to see you impressed with some snapshots from the Hubble. We will take you on adventures through galaxies!
Remember how you feel when you are about to leave for camping in Yosemite with your loved ones. Well, that’s kind of the idea. You know how much you love music and look forward to a great concert or to singing your lungs out with a large choir? We’re putting together the greatest choir of all time and saving you a spot.
And we will sing for you. You aren’t quite ready for that yet, but you will be. We’re going to unleash our joy over you in song. If you can think about what it was like to be in your Grandma’s arms while she sang to you, it will be like that and more; like the three tenors, plus the roar of the ocean, plus the sound of children laughing and sparrows singing. Remember the sound of a stadium full of my praise, with thousands and thousands singing your favorite hymn in perfect harmony? That was just a whisper.
Back to the present. Like Jesus before you, you are living in a broken world. You suffer and you see suffering. But cheer up. We have overcome the world, and you can know that everything is all right. Even today, with all that you face, you can see life with our eyes. You can steadily enjoy a pervasive sense of wellbeing, and grow in your admiration for Jesus, who suffered deeply for you.
Broken, desperately thirsty, shriveling people are all around you. We are always inviting them to drink freely of the water of life. Join our Spirit in bringing the invitation. They need to come. We do not want any to perish, but all to come to a completely restored way of thinking and living. They can come. They can come to know us. They can be taught to love us with every part of their being and to bring that love to their neighbors. The invitation goes on and on through our Spirit and our beloved bride, our church.
Don’t ever forget that our call and invitation is for you. Sometimes you will slip. Sometimes you will forget. Sometimes you will try to live without our grace. Just come back. Be restored.
Does it surprise you that we see you as our bride? Does that help you see how much you are adored, and also how closely we want you to join each other and us? You all are like single body, a single bride, with Jesus as your Lord and husband.
Delight, like we do, in being together, and together with us. This delight can grow deeper even in times of great suffering. We are especially near to you when your heart is broken. We bring comfort to you in mourning and strength to you in weakness.
We really are taking care of all the details, and we really are providing you a way through. There is glory ahead for you. Bright, amazing light that will shatter the remnants of your worries and pains.
Stay faithful. Trust us. We have been with you. We are with you today. We will always be with you. Be with us.
1. creation and shaping (Gen. 1-2, Ps 139, John 15, Eph. 2)
2. how God sees us and loves and blesses us (Num 24, Ps. 23, Zeph 3, John 3, Rom 8)
3. the idea of unity founded in the loving union of the Trinity (Song of Songs, Matt 28, John 3, John 17, Eph 4, Rev. 22)
4. His ongoing work in us and the good fruit that is in the good tree (Ps. 1, Matt. 7, Jn 15, Rom 8, Gal 5, Eph 2, Rev 22)
5. His provision in disciplining, strengthening, and pruning us; the fellowship and blessing in suffering (Ps. 34, Is. 40-41, Matt 5, John 15 – 16, Rom. 5, Rom 8, Heb. 12, James 1, I Peter 5)
7. The glorious resurrection light and life of God (Zeph. 3, John 1, John 3, John 10, II Cor. 4, Rev. 5, Rev. 22 )
Special thanks to Dallas Willard and John Ortberg for their anointed teaching on Living in Christ’s Presence (available from IVP in video and text and small group study). It was Dallas Willard’s last public teaching as his “little power pack” was failing with sickness in Feb. 2013. He was welcomed into Christ’s presence (a place that was quite familiar to him) a few weeks later, with thanksgiving on his lips as he passed.
The influence of this wonderful teaching is changing me and opening the scriptures to me. Sometimes it seems like I’ve never even seen the verses before; they are new and rich when framed in growing knowledge of God.
Some favorite phrases from Dallas Willard on joy:
“It’s a joyous God who fills the universe!”
“Joy cuts through everything”
“a pervasive sense of well being . . . that everything is O.K.”
“Creation was an act of joy, of delight, in the goodness of what was done.”
“it’s the creative aspect that goes through the love of God in creating”
“And to anticipate that the moment of passing from this earth will be one of great joy!”
“in His presence and His joy, we begin to live in heaven now”