Because God Loves Me
I was aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram social media feed the other day and came across a video from an interview that the poet and author Maya Angelou did with Oprah Winfrey some years ago.
This quote absolutely wrecked me and filled my eyes with tears. It was at the end of an already emotional week, but still...
“God loves me. It still humbles me that this force that makes leaves and fleas and stars and rivers and you, loves me. Me, Maya Angelou. It’s amazing. I can do anything. And do it well. Any good thing I can do it. That’s why I am who I am, yes, because God loves me, and I’m amazed at it.”
After I saw this video, I was instantly brought back thirty years to the Sunday morning when I first stepped back into a church after vowing never to do so again five years earlier.
For the first time, I heard someone preach a sermon with the underlying message that God loved me. I remember sitting in the pew in that church with tears streaming down my face, unable to articulate my feelings, but knowing that something had changed for me.
I'd been told in church that God was always angry at sinners. I'd be warned of God's wrath and judgment if I didn't change my ways, toe the line and believe exactly as I was told. Then I decided I didn't want to believe in a God like that, so I didn't.
This is why the notion that there was a God and that God might be loving was a shock to my system. I never dreamed I would be in a church again, much less weeping like a baby over a God I was beginning to believe was Love.
Maya Angelou's statement is stunningly beautiful. It's perhaps the most beautiful revelation of the implications of God's love for us that I have ever heard.
These are the two things that all human beings long to experience: To know and to be known.
We long to know that someone loves us unconditionally and without reservation. We long to know that there is an anchor we can trust when the storms of life are too much to bear.
We long to know that there is more to life than what we can see and that we are more than what we experience ourselves to be in our lowest moments.
We also long to be known, to realize that there are people in our lives who genuinely know us and let us know that we are known in how they speak truth into our lives, share their presence, and come find us when we are lost.
And when these two longings are realized in Divine love, that realization is absolutely transformative, just as Maya Angelou relates.
Because of the love of God, we can know that we are more than we dream to be. Our dreams become God's when we realize how much we are loved and what that love entails.
Whatever good we long to do can be done because we are loved. This love makes all things possible. All that is required of us is to receive it, believe it, and let ourselves be enveloped by it.
There are days when I feel this love so intensely. These are the days that I remember well. They are the days when time slows, and the world seems brighter around me. I feel joy. I experience peace. I can rest. I know Divine delight.
And the memory of these days sustains me when I am not embracing the Divine love around me all that well because of my own fears, worries, pride, or just downright stubbornness.
May we all find the strength to open our hearts to God's love. And when our strength is waning, may we recall the moments we have and find ourselves once more.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.