Give me a podium and an audience of wide-eyed little sisters and I’ve almost always got good words to say. I spend my days studying her heartbreak, her insecurities, her fears and doubts and dreams and all the names the world’s screaming her way. I’ll tell her the whole Truth. I’ll lock eyes with the brokenhearted and swear that she’s lovable. I’ll tell the wayward she’s welcome back Home. I’ll tell the ordinary she’s something special, the nobody she’s somebody, the too much or not enough that she was handmade just right. I’ll tell her God’s crazy about her, that His Love is priceless and hers for the taking. I’ll swear with everything in me that she is Beloved. Most days I feel made for this, but there are days when I run out of words.
There are days when I stake my Hope in my own qualifications or so-called wisdom. I try to textbook-define His Love or claim expert over it. She watches me, all tangled up in how best I can articulate or demonstrate or display it. I forget it’s the kind of Love that speaks for itself.
There are days when I overcomplicate His simple gospel. I confuse her as I work hard to earn what I swear to her is free of charge. I put on old tendencies I swore I was over. I aim to impress Him, I stack my good things high and keep my plates spinning. I forget there’s no currency to trade in for His Grace.
There are days when my own hands and heart are shaky, when I panic up front because nothing I say is noteworthy or eloquent. My performance is wobbly when I can’t dare believe Truth for myself, much less scream it from my platform. I forget who and Whose I am in the first place.
There are days when my nothing-special is exposed, and my little sisters get a front-row seat to my humanity. These days are more frequent than not. Yet on the days that I have impressed no one, I have offered nothing, I am no different than the ones taking notes—my Abba can’t take His eyes off of me. He invades my ordinary and meets me in the very depths of my being, over and over again. Like the first time and the second time and the fiftieth, He meets me of all places there. It’s on those days that I notice and hand Him my whole attention.
He meets me where I rattle off: Am I impressive? Is what I say relevant or remarkable or brand new? Are they drawn to me, do they adore me? Am I right, or do they think so? Do they trust me? Do they like me, do they want to be like me? Have they figured me out? He meets me where my pride is loud and unruly, where I’m paralyzed by insecurity and a desperate quest for their applause and approval. Where I’m selfish and entitled, a thief of His glory. Where I can’t for a second fake put-together or polished up. Where all their expectations weigh heavy. Where I am so broken, empty and human—He meets me there. He holds my shaky hands and sits in my dirt and swears, on those days: My Layne, you’re Beloved. He says it with His words and His eyes and His touch and everything in Him. He’s the Truth-teller. I can’t shake it. I’m Beloved. I. Am. Beloved.
Something wild has happened, in broad daylight as my sisters are taking notes: I leaped from simply being the teacher of God’s love to the subject of Abba’s delight. ( Brennan Manning) The word—no, the name—Beloved spoken into dry bones flips my whole wide world upside down. He takes hammer and nail to a stone heart I’ve been working hard to make lovable. He barrels though bricks I’ve stacked high hoping nobody would get all the way in. He looks at me, really looks at me, and somehow loves what He sees. I am the subject of Abba’s delight.
By the standards and qualifications of the world, I don’t belong up front. I am no expert. I will never have His Love all figured out, I cannot tame or define or adequately describe it. But I do have a story that Love Himself has written just right. I’m convinced that there is no better teacher of God’s Love than one who has been ravished and undone by it. So I am qualified! I am qualified to teach little sisters simply because I know His Love, I’ve tasted it and I’m hanging on to it for dear Life. It has unraveled me in the best way. It’s the best thing I’ve got, it is all that’s good within me. So I’ll spend my days chasing, knowing, loving and, when I’ve earned my right, teaching my little sisters. I’ll tell them the whole Truth.
Abba, she and I are no different. I too am brokenhearted and run wayward. I too think I’m nobody or too much or not enough. I too am quick to critique my body or my story, and crave affection or applause or a “well done” from whoever’s watching. I too am lonely, longing and a thief of God’s glory. I too compare myself to this girl and that girl, and straddle a line between wanting to be known but never wanting to be fully figured out. I too re-wear chains Christ went to crazy measures to break off. I too can list off a million reasons why You shouldn’t love me. But Your mystery Love makes no sense at all! You have chosen me, and qualified me, and always walked beside me. You have renamed me, seen my every scar and scuffed-up edge and loved me relentlessly anyways. I am the sheep You left the ninety-nine to chase after, the one You piggyback the whole way home. I’m the outsider You went the long way to get to, the girl You’ve got memorized. I’m the kid You trekked far and wide to raise back to Life. I’m the nobody You handpicked to follow You, to get an always shotgun seat. I am the subject of all Your delight. I am Your Beloved, your Bride of choice! So send me to the little sisters bound to decay, refusing to believe they’re loved by You. Send me to the ones buying a false gospel, and to those who have yet to know the forever-after Love. Send me to little Laynes. Go with me. Grant me favor, influence, holy confidence and words. I love this life with You!
There is an anticipation, an electricity about God’s presence in my life that I have never experienced before. I can only tell you that for the first time in my life, I can hear Jesus whisper to me everyday, “[Layne], I love you. You are Beloved.” And for some strange reason, that seems to be enough. | Mike Yaconelli