This week I am sharing a piece I wrote in 2014 for the newsletter of my former church:
Assets matter in our culture. Power, prestige and possessions measure our success and achievement. Our lifestyles testify that we believe the one who dies with the most toys wins.
When I graduated from college, I wanted to be the best CPA in Macon. I threw myself into passing the CPA exam, working long hours, community involvement, and eventually, building an accounting practice that received both local and state awards. I was involved at Mulberry, holding positions of leadership within the church. From the outside looking in, one might think I had achieved success.
Richard Rohr says that we only begin to glimpse our True Self through experiences of great love or great loss or failure. In most cases, it is loss or failure that causes a shift in priorities, but even in loss many people never relinquish our culture’s priorities. They measure their worth in terms of assets.
These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ and be found in him. (Philippians 3:8-9a)
Through a series of losses and failures, God began changing my priorities. I began to see my assets as hollow and meaningless. They distracted me from knowing I was supremely loved by God, not because I achieved anything or served on church committees or even raised my children in the church. God loved me through all my hypocrisy, pride and arrogance. God loved me when I was addicted to busyness, status, and the approval of others. When I realized that I didn’t have to meet expectations, say the right words or do the right things to gain God’s love, I could rest, knowing I am beloved by God.
Writing this brings tears, tears of contrition for my utter ugliness and tears of joy for God’s unending grace and love toward me. Luke tells of a woman who came to Jesus while Jesus was eating at a Pharisee’s home. The woman, crying, wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfumed oil on them. When the Pharisees criticized Jesus for allowing the woman to touch him, Jesus said “her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
Love this great holds nothing back. Jesus held nothing back, giving himself that we may know with certainty that we are God’s beloved. With overwhelming joy and gratitude, I want to hold nothing back from my Beloved.