It is New Year's Eve and I am home alone at last. This past year I have been in a desert place and my soul is dry and parched. I long to reconect with God, yet there is a tug-of-war happening inside me. It is as if I am afraid of the thing I most desire.
Almost against my will, I begin singing a song of praise. A mocking voice whispers, 'What a stupid way to celebrate New Year's Eve!' But I ignore it and keep singing. Anything to fill the silence.
Something changes then. I stop and hold my breath. Everything is still. It is as if I am standing on holy ground, as if I am not alone. I start singing again, but I am also laughing. Molten joy bubbles up from the depths of my being. I know this feeling of amazing love that fills me now to overflowing. I have experienced it before. Only this time it is deeper, stronger.
Joy and relief flood over me in equal measure. Those parched places within are responding to the Spirit's refreshing flow, like dry ground after life-giving rain.
Time passes, but I do not want to move from this place of deep blessing. A picture forms in my mind, vivid and clear, its impact immediate. I know I could never dream up anything like it. Could it be from God?
Would God do that for me?
I see Jesus holding a baby in his arms and realise that I am that baby. He is gazing down at my with delight and saying, over and over: 'Wow....Jo-Anne....Wow!' His face shines with love for me and he cannot seem to get over how beautiful I am. When he says my name it is like soft caress, warming me at the very centre of my being. I understand instinctively that my surname is irrelevant, because Jesus wants me to know I am a precious creation in my own right - his beloved child.
The picture fades and is replaced by another. Here I see all my school reports, academic awards and music certificates piled in the middle of a baby's blanket. I watch as two hands hold the corners towards the centre, gently covering all those records of my achievements before sliding the bundle to one side. I know theses are Jesus'hands and sense He wants me to understand that while these achievements are good in themselves, I do not need them to win his approval. I do not have to strive to gain his love and acceptance. It is all grace - unearned, unmerited.
I stay where I am, lost in awe. I feel different - lighter, and more whole. Nothing I might conjure up in my mind could ever bring about such a change in my being.
I am loved. I am precious to God. That is all I need to know.
This story was first published in 2016 and is called Encounter by Jo-Anne Berthelsen in "A Chicken Can Make A Difference". For more true stories of faith, visit the storiesoflife.net.
Singing can lift your spirit and change the spiritual atmosphere - listen and sing along to the songs on our website and as you worship you will come into the presence of God. You are loved and you are precious to God. :)