I have good news. GREAT news. But wait a minute: I have to ask a question.
What do you think is your greatest vulnerability? I don’t mean your greatest temptation to sin. I mean, what is it that makes you feel like a helpless, vulnerable child?
I will share first. I can think of a number of scenarios, but one that still haunts me is the feeling of being alone, excluded, or forgotten. If I experience something today in my 40-something daily life that brings back those childhood feelings of being alone, I am immediately heartsick.
Not understanding my question yet? Here is an example. When I was a kid, I was involved in various activities that required some scheduling and driving and planning. As a parent I now understand the challenge this presents, especially if there is more than one child involved. My sweet mother, bless her heart, was chronically late to pick me up; from school, from art lessons, from dog obedience classes with our black lab, from whatever. One time in the second grade I walked home from school when she did not show up. My parents were horrified. We did not live near the school and they could not believe I walked all the way home, along a busy highway. Teachers and supervisors and 4-H leaders looked at me with sad or worried or annoyed faces. “Where is your mother?” I was asked more than a few times. As if I knew?
I am not at all trying to bash my mom here. The reality is that I have failed my own children in similar ways. We all have our issues.
The evil one waits for such opportunities to accuse the ones who really do love us, but who love us imperfectly. For me it was during that sinking feeling after everyone else had been retrieved by their parents, standing all alone, that he would tell me; “You are not worth remembering. Quite forgettable. Look around you, there is no one left. What did you do wrong?”
These experiences are like having something wood-burned into our soul. They become our hidden motives, our inner overachiever, our nagging guilty conscience, which mock us as we continually try to overcome what we missed or lost. We agree with the one who hates us.
Time for that GREAT news.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
There is one phrase in particular here that I’m really excited about. The Father, my most loving and attentive parent, sees me “seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” In Ephesians 2 the Father has everything covered; past, present, and future. I’m not alone, not even for one second. We read this, we know this, but how often in our loneliness do we defy the deep emptiness of our hearts and declare: “I AM NOT ALONE!” There is a difference. And it will make a difference when we proclaim what God has pronounced over us all along.
Here is a happier example. My step-father taught me how to drive a tractor on our acreage in rural Arkansas when I was a kid. He did not teach me by yelling out instructions and walking away. I learned because he let me sit on the seat with him, put my hands next to his on the wheel, and showed me how to reach my foot down to the pedals to start and stop.
Back in Ephesians 2, not only does God have us seated with his Son, but we have a part of what the Trinity is doing, both in testifying to His kindness to us, and being agents of His good works. (vs 6-10)
We are never alone in His Kingdom; besides that, we are to be participating with Him. He does not teach us from afar. His hands are right next to ours, we are seated together in close proximity. Incredible, Mighty, Awesome, so-much-greater-than-us but right-next-to-us, God.