This is seven years.
I usually write this post earlier in the month of September, but between my relocation and the upcoming release of The Field through Vox Dei Publishing, it fell through the cracks. That’s okay, though: I didn’t know what I was going to say about this milestone until this morning anyway.
This. This is seven years.
Since February, I have been praying every day that I would seek, encounter, and know God more and more. (Why? Well, for one thing He’s worth pursuing, experiencing and knowing; for another, I can’t reflect what I don’t know). I’ve been reading Ephesians recently, and spent time contemplating these words from Paul in the first chapter, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe” (vs. 17-19). And just like that, my prayer to seek, encounter, and know God expanded to knowing His hope, riches, and power, too.
And because I have to have things broken down for me to better process what God is trying to tell me, this past week, I have focused on the hope to which He has called me.
I mean, I hope (and pray) for a lot of things, but is hoping for those things the hope to which God has called me? I can’t accept that it is – for one thing, it’s too general, and for another, I’ve been disappointed all too often from that kind of hope. Then there are those times when my hopes and prayers are frustrated because they are focused on unworthy and harmful things. So what is this hope, the hope God is calling me to?
A few days after reading Paul’s prayer and asking God to show me this hope, I was in Ephesians 4: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
I knew this was important, because it mentioned a calling to hope, but the puzzle wasn’t finished in my mind. I went about my day, trusting God for my Eureka! moment when I would understand exactly what He wanted me to see about hope.
Scrolling through my blog feed, I came across a post from Pastor Mel Wild entitled “A hope that never disappoints.” Needless to say, that caught my attention. In the post, Mel talks about our hope is in “being placed in a Person – Christ,” and I began to understand.
My hope is in being a part of the family of God – one body (Christ), one Spirit, one Father, who is over all, through all, in all.
When we see a child display a parent’s characteristics, we often say, “That child is her father’s daughter.”
And that’s when it punched me in the gut.
This is my hope.
I am my Father’s daughter. He is in me.
This morning at church, the message was about the Prodigal Son – about his homecoming and the responses to it. If there’s ever been a story about sonship, this is it: we have the returning prodigal, the celebrating father, and the resentful brother.
I’ve found myself in the shoes of all three at different times. When I first came to Christ, I was the prodigal, caught in an eddy of depression from trying to fill voids and heal wounds on my own. Since then, there have been seasons of rejoicing as God does great things in my life and the lives of my loved ones.
When the prodigal comes home, the father clothes him in the best robe, gives him a ring (which symbolizes adoption to sonship in Roman culture – full rights and privileges that were given as a son reached maturity), and puts sandals on his feet (because only slaves went around barefoot). Then the father throws a celebration.
But look at his response to the older brother, who has forgotten his position. Gently, the father reminds him, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”
What the prodigal brother was given upon his return, the older brother already had in his possession.
This morning, seven years after meeting Christ, I found myself in the place of the older brother. Don’t get me wrong: I am still always delighted to see people brought from sinking sand to solid ground, from darkness to light, from lost to found, from death to life – in fact, I love it! But here’s what struck me: The older brother is a prodigal in his own way. He’s so busy working in the field, he’s forgotten his sonship.
In the past three years, I’ve lost my hope because I’ve disregarded my position in Christ.
God isn’t waiting to bless me with the benefits of sonship – the hope, the riches, the power. I’ve been adopted to full rights and privileges. And I can freely and joyfully accept when others come into their inheritance as sons and daughters.
I am my Father’s daughter!
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship…Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:15, 17a).
“So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has also made you an heir” (Galatians 4:7).
“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be blameless and holy in His sight. In love He predestined us to kinship through Jesus” (Ephesians 1:4-5a).
And, of course, there’s this song from Bethel, No Longer Slaves.
Happy Seventh Anniversary, Jesus! Here’s to many more!