“God who loves us creates us and wants to share life with us forever.” (Ignatius of Loyola, tr. David Fleming)
I’ve been sitting with these words recently, and I’m a bit in awe at the amount of grace that can fit into a single short sentence.
“God who loves us creates us. . .”
Ignatius and Fleming didn’t say, “God who creates us loves us,” though that is both true and wonderful news. The truth is far bigger. God who sees and knows us before we come into being is delighted with what he sees. He loves us, and wants us to be, so he makes us.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart” (Jer 1:5).
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day” (Ps 139:13-16, The Message).
Ignatius and Fleming also didn’t say, “God who loves us created us,” though that is true. God saw us and knew us, loved us, and created us—and he continues to be at work in us, shaping and molding, making us new creations and continuing to shape us until he brings us to our full and final beauty in Christ.
“. . . anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” (2 Cor 5:17, The Message).
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Phil 1:6).
“. . . and wants to share life with us forever.”
God wants to share his own life with us—giving us eternal life.
But he also wants to simply share life with us. He wants to “do life together.”
He loved us before he created us. He knew who he was getting when he made us. And he wanted, wants, longs to share life with us, His life and ours brought into oneness in a never-ending joy-filled union rooted in the unceasing love of the Trinity.
A Chance to Return to Love
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Next Wednesday (Feb 22) Lent begins. Both are a lot about love. I know that Lent can feel like a heavy season, and it is sombre. But as we approach Lent, let’s not forget that the call of this season is ultimately the same call that echoes through the prophets: “Return to me.” It’s a call rooted in God’s passionate desire to share life with us—now and forever. It’s a call from this God who loves us into being and then loves us with his own life and wants to share life with us forever.
“Lent is about love. . . . Lent is a time to study every detail of the beloved, backwards and forwards, and to intensify our gaze into the mystery of God’s love for us in Christ.”
And as Esau McCaulley echoes in his lovely little primer on Lent (perfect for those who are new to the season, or who have begun to discover its riches and want to better understand the gifts of this season),
“Lent is not about endless repetition of the fact that we are sinners. Instead, it offers us over and over the chance to see the beauty of life with God—a beauty that has been obscured by a multitude of compromises. Lent is a quieting of the soul and a lessening of distractions so we can again hear the voice of God” (p. 72).
We are loved, friends, loved beyond anything we can imagine. Pray with me?
“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower us with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in our hearts as we trust in him. Our roots will grow down into God’s love and keep us strong. And may we have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May we experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then we will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen” (Eph 3:14-21. NLT).(I’ve taken the liberty of changing all the “you” and your”s to “”we”, “us” and “our”s because this is a prayer I pray for myself as well as for you!)
P.S. Here’s a review I wrote of Esau McCaulley’s book, Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal,
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash.