I stood in an Ethiopian church in London, England in July. The city — famous for its grey skies and rainy weather — was in the centre of a heat wave. And let me tell you, it was hot. The church was small and not air-conditioned. Small fans whirred at the front, near the stage. Perspiration dribbled down my back.
“Why am I here, God?” I prayed silently. I knew the reason I was in London for the summer — to complete an internship for my college journalism program — but it felt as though there was something more to why I was there. So many factors needed to shift into place in order for me to go to England. There must’ve been a greater reason than simply an internship.
I asked God the question again. I listened carefully, paying close attention to my heart.
Listening to God isn’t something that comes naturally for me. Spending time in silence and solitude is hard. I get distracted easily — by Instagram and my runaway thoughts. I constantly have to come back to the presence of Jesus in and around me. I remind myself to listen, and I remind myself to be still.
“Be still and know that I am God” — it’s a good reminder when I’m practicing listening to His voice.
I don’t always hear from God, but when I do I generally see a picture or a short video in my mind. But the day I stood in the London church was different. Almost immediately after I asked the question, I felt words whisper across my heart, words I was certain didn’t come from my own mind.
I brought you to London to tell you I love you.
I laughed, out loud in the middle of the church.
“Are you serious?” I asked Him silently. “You flew me seven hours, across an entire ocean, because You wanted me to know You love me?”
I didn’t hear anything that time, but I remembered the words I’d clearly heard a handful of seconds earlier and replayed them in my mind: I brought you to London to tell you I love you.
What I hadn’t told God — what I hadn’t told anybody — was that for most of my life I’d had a longing for someone to love me enough to fly across an ocean for me. I pictured living far away, only to have someone show up on my doorstep, exhausted from travel but determined to assure me of their love. It’s silly and slightly dramatic, but I’ll be the first to admit I’m a fan of sweeping gestures.
I started to cry when I realized that God had done this thing I’d always wanted and never said. He flew me across an ocean, and then He met me there with the words each human longs to hear: I love you.
He cared enough about my silly, dramatic dream to meet me in the middle of my longing. Tears coursed down my cheeks at the thought of His tender kindness.
I don’t always feel the love of God, but feeling is far different than knowing. Feelings don’t always equate to the truth. Even when I don’t feel loved, I wake up with the knowledge that I am His beloved, regardless of how I might feel.
And so are you.
Even when you fail, you are loved.
Even when you feel unworthy, you are loved.
Even when you’ve done the worst thing you think you could ever possibly do, you are loved.
I know this to be true. How? Because He’s the God who crosses oceans to tell us so.
Even when I don’t feel loved, I wake up with the knowledge that I am His beloved, regardless of how I might feel. -@alizalatta: Click To Tweet