Thursday, March 10, 2011

Words That Make A Difference

Last night, I asked my Bishop (in some churches this would be the senior pastor, or Doctor of Divinity) to write a couple of letters for people who are going on a spiritual renewal/retreat weekend. Our church is very busy these days, with exponential growth and getting ready to launch another facility on the other side of town, allowing us the auspicious  honor of duplicating ourselves in ministry, so everyone is busy to say the least. In a joking manner he asked me why I didn't just write the letters myself and let him sign them. He is a real NUT sometimes!

For some reason I felt it was the appropriate time to blabber on and I told him that my mom and I were discussing my Dad recently. She was asking me what I remembered about my Dad, and I told her that the main thing I remembered was that he never said the words "I love you" to me. He would say "Daddy loves you". Mom said that she felt it was the same thing, and I told her I didn't think it was. I wanted to hear it from him! I wanted to hear the words "I love you" come out of my Daddy's mouth, directed at ME.! 

Now, if you know my Bishop, you know "the look". It is the look that says "I hear what you are saying, that makes sense to me", but it also has a deeper side that makes me think he might be chewing on what I said a little bit more.

So I pondered this conversation this morning. I have always struggled with self esteem issues, and wonder more often than not if I have just made a complete fool of myself by something I said.  I began thinking of what I had told Bishop last night, and the enemy began playing with my self doubt and telling me how he "might" have taken it. In my mind, I could hear him saying "That girl is messed up! I just joked around with her and she got all philosophical on me and drug up all her past baggage". Either that, or "the look" was actually him saying "Ok, ok, would you shut up now so I can go get something to eat?"  Or worse yet, he zoned out and went to his happy place.

Now if you know my Bishop, or have ever even been near him, you know this is not the case. This man of God loves each and every person with a love that only comes from Jesus. He is compassionate, caring and the most humble man I have ever met. His words are always uplifting, edifying and encouraging.  It was my own self doubt and my own mind allowing me to think of him in any other manner.

So this morning, as I played over all of this in my mind, I began to pray about it. I began asking God was I wrong to want to hear "I love you" from my Dad? Was that a trivial thing that I had allowed to haunt me all these years? [side note: Dad walked out of my life when I was nine and died when I was 21]

God began showing me some things about this, and a lesson came from it for me. I had no power over the words that came out of my Dad's mouth, or over what I heard with my own ears. 


What if I only allowed others to tell me that God loves me? What if I took everything that Sunday School teachers and pastors have told me and that was as far as I went with it? I would be living the same life, with an emptiness of never hearing my Heavenly Father say "I love you" with my own ears.

The Word tells us that God speaks to us through His Holy Spirit. I have heard the audible voice of Almighty God once and I hear the quiet voice of His Holy Spirit almost constantly. The Bible says "Blessed is the man who listens to me" (Proverbs 8:34) and Jesus said "My sheep listen to my voice." (John 10:27). We need to remember that  "the word of God is living and active" (Hebrews 4:12) God also speaks to us through other people and through dreams and visions.

If we only allowed others to tell us that God loved us, we miss the boat entirely. We need to hear it from Him. 
Are we listening?  We need to earnestly seek God, and cry out to Him. We need to hear "I love you" from Him, and He wants to hear it from us as well.

Sometimes things come to me slowly and quietly, but this didn't. It was a booming voice in my Spirit, a passionate cry from my Heavenly Father saying to me "My precious daughter, I LOVE YOU!" 

And that made all the difference.