The guest speaker at our church's Women's Summer Dinner was a local pastor's wife who is working in Malawi, Africa to build an orphanage there. It was interesting to hear her stories of Malawi, and I think I felt a special connection with her love for Africa because of Benjamin.
The theme of her talk was "The Heart of God" and was based on 1 John 4:19 "We love because He first loved us."
The dinner was in July, but I keep remembering a story that she told us about her daughter's pregnancy with her soon-to-be-born first grandchild. She was laughing about how her daughter and son-in-law talk to the baby, read to the baby, sing to the baby and are fully, and completely devoted and smitten with this baby whom they have never met and who has never had an opportunity to earn that love.
She spoke about how this is an illustration of God's love toward us. This baby's value has already been determined by his or her parents before he or she is even born.
I began thinking about Benjamin and how once again this adoption process has proven to be a beautiful illustration of God's adoption of me. Pat and I and the girls love Benjamin so much and we are so devoted to him and committed to him, yet in reality we don't know him yet. He has never had an opportunity to earn that love. Our commitment to him is a choice, and not based on his behavior or his character or anything he has done. We have chosen to love him.
This past year, God has been working on my heart so much and trying to teach me about who I am in Him, my spiritual identity. He has been shining light on places in my heart and areas of my life that need work. I love how God never shows us what's wrong without also providing a solution. He led me to the book The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee. This book has been life changing for me.
I have been a believer my whole life. I don't even remember when I gave my life to Christ. I have had a head knowledge of grace, but lately God has been revealing to me how I have not been living with a heart knowledge of grace. I have struggled my whole life with wanting to be significant or special. I have tried so hard to be perfect and not break rules or to fail in any way. I've based all of my self-worth on what other people think of me, and I've desperately sought their approval. I knew in my head that I could not earn my way to heaven or earn God's favor, but I was desperate to do everything right so that God and everyone else would think, "Wow. She's special."
I can't stand it when I fail or when I think people don't like me or are angry with me or are judging me. I get jealous easily, and I long for the approval of people who are in leadership positions. I can say with my lips that God's opinion of me matters more than anything else, but I don't live that way. I keep trying to find my self-worth, when God has already given it to me through what Jesus did on the cross. Through this book and through this adoption process, God has been showing me that He has already proven my worth and that He loved me long before I could earn it, and there is nothing I can do to lose it.
Anyway, I am so thankful for a God that loves me, is intimately involved in my life, and who proved His love for me long before I was born. He is so faithful and good. What an awesome God we serve. : )