Christian spiritual formation can be a process that is enlightening, encouraging, sorrowful, and humbling. Plain and simple, it can be “messy.” Journeying back to the true self of who God has created us to be may require going through painful situations which teach us once again that we are His beloved children no matter what. As each layer of our false self is peeled away by the working presence of the Holy Spirit within us, He reminds us over and over again that even in these times of discouragement, depression, denial, or grief, He loves us more than we can imagine. Our underlying emotions of fear, shame, or guilt can be triggered as quickly as we take a breath. Remembering to say a “breath prayer” reminding us that Christ loves us or quoting a “breath of Scripture” is a practical and spiritual discipline to intentionally posture ourselves to be present to Christ’s work of love within us.
Recently, as I began to drive on the interstate for an hour’s drive, the oil light on my dashboard came on to alert me to give attention to checking the oil. I really did not need this on that particular day. I pulled off the rest area within a mile. When I parked I saw 2 men checking the oil in their pick up truck. Since I have the oil checked and changed on a regular basis, it had been a while since I had checked the oil myself. I knew I would have to get the manual out etc. I didn’t want to be late to my appointment so I asked them if they would help me by checking the oil. The older gentleman and his grandson obliged me and both agreed after checking it that the car was a quart low. I retrieved the quart of oil that I had in my trunk and proceeded to pour it into the place they showed me. I thanked them and continued on my way. Within 5 minutes, the tears began streaming down my face as I acknowledged that once again the Lord had taken care of me and provided for me in a very loving way.
Two days later, while walking from one building to the next at the campus where I teach, a young man and I crossed paths. As I continued to walk toward my building, he kept walking perpendicular to me, turned around and said, “God wants you to know that He loves you.” The spontaneous message from this student surprised me. In response, I said, “He loves you too.” Just inside the door, I paused with a thankful heart and a few tears, realizing that, truly, the Holy Spirit had moved this young man to speak to me. God has His own ways of reminding us in specific ways that are appreciated by us individually that He loves us.
The title of this blog came to me one day because I was cleaning up after our 70 lb. golden retriever, Jordan. He is truly loveable, fun, and endearing. Yet, he is definitely messy. It reminded me that we are all blessed to be loved by God in our messiness whatever it may look like.
Our 22 1/2 month old grandson had just arrived to our home 2 weeks ago from California. We’re so thankful we have seen him as often as we have. He is recognizing us more because of these visits and plenty of Face Timing. The following morning, he allowed me to hold him quietly with his pillow, blanket, and “binky.” He snuggled up close and we sat together quietly for 10-15 min. I felt truly blessed and loved by Christ in giving me these moments with him that I would savour for a long time. God knew that this was a particular, specific, way that I could connect with my grandson, and connect with the realization that I am loved just as deeply by Christ as He is holding me.
These noticings of the love of Christ for me in specific individual ways reminds me over and over that God is always with us all in this spiritual transformational journey. I have referred to this Scripture passage before in other blogs I’ve written. It’s an old passage that never gets “old” to me.
“And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home
in your hearts as you trust in him.
May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should,
how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully
understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power
that comes from God.”