Matthew 16:19 – And that's not all. You will have complete and free access to God's kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven. (MSG)
A fellow Sunday School teacher says that she gets more out of Sunday School than the children do. This devotional is about one of those experiences.
Recently, while teaching Sunday School, I watched a second-grade student working on her response to the Bible story for the day. As she attempted to print the correct spelling of "Jesus", she glanced up for assistance, so I said, "J E S – U S. It looks like 'Yes – us'."
"Yes – us" stuck in my brain overnight. The next morning, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God's "Yes" for "us" speaks of the universality of our Father's love for us. God's love is for all of us, available to anyone. It is there for the taking. Taking God's love to heart, though, requires first of all, an awareness of it, and secondly, trust in His desire to give it.
Then, the Holy Spirit got personal: "Change 'Yes – us' to 'Yes – me'." Then in one of those moments of quiet understanding, a list of hard words spoken about me in childhood scoldings, along with others spoken through the years with anger, came into my conscious mind. Uncomplimentary labels like "messy", "slow", "inconsiderate", and others that I had internalized from life experiences, especially from the impressionable years of childhood, were vaporized in a revised impression of myself as someone in whom God takes great delight. Despite every other opinion to the contrary, God's "Yes!" is a vote of confidence, affirmation, and supreme love!
At the time, my granddaughter was making the transition from crawling to walking. I had spent time with her providing her with "sky hooks", holding her hands as she perfected her steps and grew in her skills to the point that she could walk as fast as she could crawl. I sensed the same joy from God for me as the delight that I felt in fellowship with her as we walked. Joy from God with me and for me was a given, but I had been hindered in taking it to heart by what I had unconsciously believed about myself, based on words expressed long ago by significant others in my life. God said to me, "My love delights over you in same way that you delight over your eleven-month-old granddaughter. Come for hugs from Me like she seeks hugs from you."
My "Yes – me, He really loves me" moment was a "metanoia", a repentance, a change of mind, an instant and complete reversal of attitude.
Yes, I have forgiven the people who offered those adjectives. I have taken "Child in whom God delights" as my new label.
What a sobering thought! Others' evaluations of us, planted in our unconscious mind, can become barriers to our full understanding of God's love. Our hard evaluations of others and ourselves can hinder the fresh start that God has already provided through Jesus! Forgiving takes on whole new meaning.
How are you when faced with infinite love: denying or joyous?
Prayer: Father in heaven, help us to take to heart Your thoughts and ways. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we ask. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Unto The Hills Around Do I Lift Up" (Lyrics)