Receive God's Affection

Affection is a key part of any meaningful, enjoyable friendship. By affection I mean the feeling of genuinely liking someone, of wanting to spend some amount of time with them, of being interested in their well-being, of accepting them as they are. Affection is one of the building blocks of love. My life totally changed 28 years ago this week, when I (finally) recognized that a certain young lady from Marietta, Georgia, was paying attention to me, and I chose to receive her affection.

Even more life-transforming is the moment we receive God’s affection for us. Many of us struggle to accept that God likes us, is on our side, is proud of how far we’ve come, and has our back. We may think instead that God is perpetually annoyed by us, always judging our faults and imperfections and devising painful ways to make us pay for them. These unhealthy suspicions and inaccurate assumptions interfere with our ability to have a growing relationship with God—and they can prevent us from receiving all that God has in mind for us.

One of the most important things we can do for our personal health and wellbeing—not to mention our spiritual growth—is to truly believe, receive, and embrace God’s infinite affection for us, with no qualifications. Just as the affection of a friend or spouse can lighten our load, receiving God’s affection for us can bring us peace, hope, security, and a whole new perspective.

This generally requires that we stop trying to impress or prove ourselves to God. It can help to slow down, clear our minds, sit in silence, and just learn to be mindful of God’s presence in our lives—not as a critic or judge, but as a friend.

What would it look like for you to receive God’s affection? Many people have discovered it through some form of prayer or meditation, especially when they are silent in God’s presence. Find your way to receive God’s affection and you will rise to heights you haven’t yet experienced.

Untethered

On the eve of the annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race in St. Louis, Missouri, is a balloon glow. The hot air balloons are securely tethered, and visitors are allowed in to see them up close, meet the pilots, and even hop into a basket for pictures. Occasionally, pilots blast the balloon’s propane burner, releasing a burst of fire that causes the balloon to light up.

A balloon glow is an impressive, almost magical sight, as dozens of balloons randomly light up, like fireflies at dusk. Still, as long as a hot air balloon is tethered to the ground, it can’t do what it was made to do. Remove its tethers, and watch it rise, almost effortlessly, and soar into the air.

Recently, I’ve felt tethered—not quite free to rise and soar, to do what I was made to do. While any of us may feel tethered by forces beyond our control—other people, our situation, or other circumstances—ultimately, it’s our own thoughts, feelings, or attitudes, along with God’s ever-present grace and mercy, that determine whether we rise above what’s got us down.

With the help of a good pastor-friend, I’ve come to recognize that my primary tether is fear. It’s difficult to admit, but too often I’ve allowed myself to be tethered by a variety of fears and anxieties: fear of failure; fear of criticism, judgment, or rejection; fear of just being myself; fear of not having anything worthwhile to offer.

Now I’m learning that the more I recognize and name the fear haunting me, rather than trying to ignore or deny it, the more courage is available to me to face the unknown. The more I believe and rest in God’s unending love for me, the less I worry about how others may respond to me—and the more easily I rise above fear to experience God’s transformation. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing easy about dealing with fear and anxiety, but they don’t need to have the last word.

For you, maybe it’s not fear that has you tethered down but guilt, anger, sadness, regret, or something else. Naming what’s tethering you can be the first step to taking back some of the power it holds over you. And learning to trust and rest in God’s love and affection for you will truly change your life—leaving you untethered and ready to rise.

Rise--It's a New Day

Rise is my word for 2019. For me, it signifies hope, courage, mindfulness, and all the promise represented by each new day. In the words of Wendell Berry, it means to “practice resurrection.”

Maybe you can think of ways you too need to rise in 2019. If so, I invite you to join me on this journey. We can share wisdom together, give one another courage, and remind one another of the hope set before us.

This is not my first experience with blogging. Most recently, I built a faithful, widespread readership around the topic of Sustainable Christianity—reflecting my own desire and the desire of others to find a more authentic, livable expression of faith in Christ. In early 2014, right after my book ReCreatable was released, I suspended that blog due to a professional transition that took me from Noblesville, Indiana, back to my hometown of St. Louis.

Thankfully, ReCreatable has done just fine without the support of my blog. It quickly earned back its advance royalty, and I began receiving additional royalty payments soon after that, so thank you to all of you who have played some part in its success. Last I checked, it was on its third printing.

Now, five years later, my family and I have embarked on a new adventure. Last summer, we moved to middle Tennessee, where we now live in an old barn converted into a house on acreage. At the beginning of this month, after much prayer and family discussion, I chose to cut way back on my hours at work to gain flexibility to pursue more writing, editing, and other types of work in line with my unique passions and interests. I’m now working to build my existing freelance work into a full-time enterprise—going into business of my own.

It’s a new day for me and my family, and in keeping with my word for the year, time to rise. Part of that is resurrecting this blog. Is anyone blogging anymore? I’m not sure, but for me, it’s always been a way to give back—a way to freely share some of the content I write from my heart. My goal is to bring awareness, encourage, and inspire you to grow—personally and spiritually, whatever that may mean for you. I will occasionally share classic favorite posts from the past, along with plenty of new content. I hope you will read and enjoy.

Also, before you leave today, I hope that you will take a moment to explore the rest of my website, which describes the professional services I am offering as I make the transition to professional full-time freelance work. Perhaps it will give you ideas of ways that you and I can work together—either you as an individual or as a representative of your congregation or other organization. Or maybe you know someone that can benefit from the services I offer and you would choose to help them connect with me. Either way, thank you in advance for your partnership and support.

I appreciate you and look forward to having you with me on this new journey.

Oh, and rise—it’s a new day.