It came by way of one of the cards I receive now and then,
- and always previously with a challenge.
( See posts "Space Hoppers and Guinea Pigs - Wild!"
and "A Pig of a Challenge").
This time at first sight there was no challenge.
What could possibly be challenging about a black and white photo
of a knitted teddy bear who,
with broadly beaming smile and widely spread,
comes bearing the message,
(no pun intended),
Everything about this message,
from the stripy vest stretched over Teddy's round tummy,
to the dimply thumbs of his open arms, exuded
COMFORTING, WELCOMING, LOVE.
So too did the hand written message inside the card.
Why then did I smile
and place it all too swiftly on the mantle shelf and turn to other things?
Why do I find it so difficult to accept that I am loved,
and to let that feeling seep into the very bones of me,
luxuriating in the self-acceptance of receiving
love that I do not in the least feel I have earned
When I said that the the card was timely
I was not merely referring to my nudge to get back to blogging
but also to the fact that yesterday
I was preaching at the mid-week communion,
and my text was from Ephesians 1. -
that great distillation of Paul's doctrine of what is ours in Christ.
I know most of those to whom I was preaching.
Some, I know ,are going through times of intense pain
and struggling with real difficulties of many kinds,
both in their own lives
and the lives of those close to them.
What could be more wonderful then
than that I had the opportunity
to bring the strengthening Word of Life, which tells us that God
"chose us in him before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight.
he predestined us"
How can it be that God saw the whole of his creation
before ever it came into being and decided
that without you,
it would not be complete!
Yet these verses are clear, as is Psalm 139*
You are no accident,
You and I are here by the deliberate choice of God.
Now at this point I can hear the quibbles beginning,
the many and varied reasons why this just cannot be so,
because it opens up so much that we can see no sense to.
I can hear the voices of some who will be protesting
that the verses quoted from Ephesians are only for believers.
Only for those whom God already predestined to know and believe in Him.
To them my only reply here is that
I neither know who God already has numbered amongst His own,
or who He yet will,
and I am unwilling to make that distinction for Him or them.
Therefore I hold this truth out to you wherever you are,
and offer it to you whether you are a God-believer or no,
and tell you again,
YOU LIVE BECAUSE GOD CHOSE YOU
YOU ARE NO ACCIDENT
His love is so great,
so different from ours,
that He does not even insist that you choose Him in return.
He simply waits,
forever if need be,
Arms open always,
never turning us away.
So I preached the glorious truths of Ephesians 1,
of which this is,
(foundational as it is),
only a very small part.
Yet today through the words
of an avuncular knitted bear I heard the words of love re-echoed,
and was challenged again to believe,
to linger and receive,
and not turn too quickly away.
Today and every day
may we turn away from the world's message that we are not
the right size or shape, gender, or colour, or race,...
That we are not clever enough,
stylish enough, popular or good enough,...
and turn back to the quietly insistent voice that tells us that
OUT OF LOVE, AND FOR LOVE,
WE WERE BOTH CHOSEN AND MADE
*Footnote:- Psalm 139;13 tells us that it is God who "created my inmost being; (and) knit me together in my mother's womb." -
v.16 "....All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
P.S. It is great to get your feedback. Do leave a comment if only by ticking a reactions box. Thank you.
(Thank you Kate for sending Teddy to give me a nudge)