When he tells me that he loves me, his blue eyes a breaking dam, I receive it. I knew it already, from the expressions on his face, and his love-laden actions. It’s when he tells me that I’m beautiful that I falter. To be loveable and to be beautiful are not synonymous.
He stands tall, closer to me than he’s ever stood, and says, “You’re beautiful.”
I should have felt the truth emanating from his nearness, surging like deep waters from his eyes, but still I utter the words, “Do you really think I’m beautiful?”
He was like an angel, like one pronouncing divine words. I was like Zechariah, responding with unbelief. He could have scolded me, closed off the dam, cutting the flow of love. It was just that no one had said as much to me before, at least besides my family, and them not in the same manner.
How is it that love is easier to accept than delight?. Sure, God loves us. It’s his job to love us. He made us; he’s greater than us; he died for us. We accept his forgiveness. We accept his eternal life. It’s his tenderness, his pleasure, his all-surpassing joy that crashes against our shame and falls rejected at our feet.
Am I beautiful to Him? Does He delight in me? Can I accept His creation pronunciation, “It is very good”?
When my heart discards the adoring nature of God, it’s like questioning everything He’s ever written. “Did God really say…” Ever since its haunting utterance in the garden, we like to echo that question. It’s our fallen spirit, a spirit of distrust, reservation, doubt. Yes,…but. Yes, you may love me, but I am not beautiful.
What does “The joy of the Lord is my strength” mean, other than that the Lord’s taking joy in me sustains me, fills me with sustenance? His delight becomes my energy, fuels my obedience, becomes my calling:
Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:14-17
Shortly after my husband-to-be spoke those words, “You’re beautiful”, we went hiking on an early summer day through the green mountains of North Carolina. While we stopped for a rest, he took me in his arms and sang prayers over me, making up lyrics to simple tunes. To be sung over is to be delighted in, cherished, covered in grace.
God Himself is singing over us. It’s more than a love that pities. It’s a love that delights; a love that will fight for our nearness, a love that wants to do more than save. A love that pours grace and worth into us. And what is He singing? Words of radical joy! Words of victory! Words of beauty!
How will we respond to this singing? Will we hang our heads in shame, uttering quiet words “Do you really…”? Or will we accept the joy and sing, shout aloud, rejoice, be glad with all our hearts?