In one of the most intimate glimpses of Jesus’ earthly life, we get to hear Him praying. And in that prayer, which comprises all of the seventeenth chapter of John, Jesus makes a statement I’m afraid we have far too often overlooked. Verse 6 poetically reads:
“I made Your Name known to the people You gave me. They are from this world. They belonged to You, and You gave them to Me…”
God gave us to Jesus.
Psalm 2:8 gives us another glimpse into the story: “Ask Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as Your own possession.”
Jesus asked for us. And God freely gave. The implications of this are mindblowing, when you really stop to think about it. Like a suitor asking a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, Jesus asked the Father for us. And the father was delighted to say yes!
I’ve always been told of the gift we have been given in Christ. That God has freely given us His Son, and all things in Him. And it’s true, this is an incredible act of loving generosity, which cost God His very own heart! Not something to be taken lightly!
But there are two sides to this coin, or rather this love story. For Jesus asked God for us, and God freely gave to Him, as well. We, the crown of the Father’s creation. We, the masterpiece of God. We, His own special possession, His treasure and His joy.
This, too, should not be taken lightly.
I am a gift, and so are you. But do we live like we know it? Or do we spend most of our time living apologetically, feeling and acting as if we are always and ever less than what we should be? Even if it’s true in practice – even if we fail and fall short time and time again, we must learn to believe that – in theory and in substance – we are more than we think we are. If it wasn’t true, God wouldn’t have given us as gifts. We would be burdens instead.
I remember going to a bridal shower once that left an unforgettable image in my heart. The bride was wrapped in an elegant ribbon, and her Maid of Honor prayed over her, that as she was preparing to give herself as a gift to her husband, God would bless her and the marriage, the gift-giving ceremony.
Often in Scripture, God refers to us as His bride, as the bride of Christ. Our relationship with Him is pictured as a covenant relationship, as a marriage. It has taken me years to even begin to understand the beauty of this imagery, and this reality, because I was never taught or shown that marriage is a gift-giving ceremony, or that a husband and wife are gifts to each other.
In all of the examples I have known, marriage was a rough and rocky road. It was a partnership, but a difficult one, and one in which both participants often saw each other as much less than a gift. I have carried that broken understanding into my own marriage, and into my relationship with God, and it has made things much harder than they needed to be. But God wants to change that for me.
He wants to change it for you, too.
If you and I could begin each day in the presence of Jesus, allowing His gaze to rest upon us and His love to penetrate our hearts, we would be more convinced of the gift that we are to Him. And that would make our loving and our living so much more of a blessed adventure! It would help us to shine all the more, and to sing our songs with confidence, even when the world around us shames and condemns us.
Living loved, knowing that we are gifts and not burdens, would free us to give ourselves and spend ourselves without fear or hesitance, because we would know we are always the apple of Jesus’ eye, and always the object of His adoration. We would always live from a place of fullness and reassurance, rather than fear and insecurity.
Have you paused yet today to catch the reflection of yourself in His gaze? Take a moment right now to look His way and be reminded of what a gift you are to Him, of just how much He loves and adores and believes in You. Let Him assure you that, even on your worst day, He loves what He sees when He looks at you, because His love and His life are fully invested in you, for eternity.
With Him by your side, you can do anything. And when you are living in His love, you will want to.
Be blessed today, and live like the gift that you are!