When I write a blog series, I work up a general outline before I launch into the actual writing of it. And, so far, each series has turned into a reflection of the spiritual journey God has me on at the time. So, as I’ve wondered — at first in my head, then here on the blog — about belonging, God has revealed more than a few significant truths in these last couple of months. But maybe the strongest anchor for my soul has been the wisdom of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:
- I belong to Jesus because I was given to Him — in love, for love
- I am a treasured gift of the Father’s, and He’s given me the holy gifts of His Son and Word
- I’ve been given God’s name, which means I’m covered by His protection and power
- I don’t belong to the world — a truth I needed to be reminded of
- To be one in Christ requires that I abide in Him, and when I abide in Him, I am better able to be one with other believers — and those are Jesus’ greatest desires for me
- This life isn’t about me but God — all I say and do should be for His glory
I really don’t have a way to adequately describe how little I understood all these truths until I began investigating Scripture, my own heart, and the words of trusted believers who have gone before me. I stand amazed at the way a surrendered heart can break open to all that God has. And, lest you leave yourself out of all these truths, don’t. Jesus’ prayer and all these bits of wisdom are for each of us. Even you.
Which brings us to our final stanza in this great prayer of Jesus — the final words of His final prayer.
“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”John 17:25-26, NLT
Like the passage before it, we sense a pulling together of all the themes that have already unfolded, emphasizing every message one last time. For instance, the world. In the busy and the brokenness, in the disheartening and the disappointing, Jesus wants us to remember — we don’t belong to the world but to Him. The world won’t make sense because the world doesn’t know the Father. So when we get caught up in the whirlwinds of the world’s creation, we can push pause and remember.
Jesus knows God. We know Jesus. We belong to Jesus.
I love that Jesus speaks again of the Already and Not Yet — He has already revealed God to us. When we pause and pay attention, we see Him in the intricacies of the leaf that has lived its full life, its glorious green color giving way to vivid yellow then to lifeless brown. We hear Him in the words delivered by a friend who courageously speaks a word of life over us. We smell the goodness of God in the air of a fall morning full of mum’s fragrance and dew’s droplets.
But then Jesus says, “and I will continue to do so.” The Not Yet — the promise of His presence dwelling within us through the person of the Holy Spirit who will evermore speak, convict, and pray. What a beautiful promise to cling to as we move into the holiday season and all it holds. Jesus will continue to reveal the Father to us. Let’s keep looking for Him!
Then is a transitional word that connects what came before it to these realities: We know God sent Jesus. We know Jesus is with us. So, when we live out of all this knowing, then we’ll also remember that God’s love for Jesus will be in us. This love — it’s key. When we abide in God’s love, we rest. We feel secure. We are able to share that love with others. This is the perfect picture of True Belonging.
But Jesus’ final words, “and I will be in them,” say it all. Continuously. Twenty-four-seven. Wherever we go, Jesus will be with us. For those of us searching for True Belonging, there are no better parting words to hear. He will be with us. In us. Always. Forever. If we anchor ourselves in that truth, we remain secure in our belonging.
Joy, Belong, Dwell
We began this series with a quote from Henri Nouwen, and when I went back to reread it, I saw it with new eyes:
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death can take God away from us.”Henri Nouwen
My word for 2020 has been joy, and somehow in my desire to discover joy’s depths and truths, I uncovered my own need for belonging. This quote beautifully wove the two together, helping me understand that to find true joy I must first grab hold of the One to whom I most truly belong. And, in this most recent reading, I saw a word I hadn’t noticed before: refuge. In the perfect, miraculous way that only God can, He went before me and wove in a third idea, that of dwelling in Him. When we say God is our refuge, we’re claiming Him as our safe place, a good place in which to abide or dwell. Dwell. The word I’d already felt could be my word for 2022. Well, now I know it is so. And how AMAZING to see the way dwell wrapped itself in where I’ve been and becomes the vehicle for where God is taking me.
One More Pomegranate
While I can’t promise it’ll be the last you’ll hear from me on the only fruit I’ve ever connected with spiritually, this is the final pondering of the pomegranate for now.
My fascination with this fruit began with a book Sue Monk Kidd wrote with her daughter, Ann, about their literal journeys through Greece, France, and other cool places, but really the book was a moving intersection of both their searches for belonging — in the world, in their relationships, in their careers, and in their faith.
The bond of mother and daughter strengthened as they explored historical sites, and those places, symbolized by the pomegranate, kindled in them an awareness of who they really were and who they were created to be. Their stories resonated within me, so as I finished the book, I decided to adopt the pomegranate as the symbol for my writing and ministry. Even if I didn’t fully understand why at the time.
Now that I’ve researched this particular fruit’s role in history and in my own life, the pomegranate is coming to mean to me the pursuit of purpose and place, which is what my writing does. Writing allows me to dig deeper within myself, God’s Word, and this spiritual journey I’m on — with the desire to grow deeper with God and the hope of helping others on their journeys. So, pomegranates.
This week I picked up that copy of Sue and Ann’s book, Traveling with Pomegranates, and flipped to one of my marked pages to find this perfect portion of David Whyte’s poem:
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Jesus died for each one of us so that we could experience such freedom. Free from the entanglement of sin and all its nearest relatives (bad habits, spiraling thoughts, addictions, negativity, comparison, pride, and you fill in the blank). Free from our own doubts and fears — because Jesus claims us as His own. Jesus freely gives us the love of the Father. And with that love, we’re better able to find where we most belong and to share that love with the world, the world that is so lost. So confused. And more hungry for this kind of love than we, or they, realize. Friend,
You belong to Jesus.
You belong to this grand fellowship of believers.
So, anchor yourself to Him.
Now, who can you reach out to in order to be the one who perpetuates this gift of True Belonging?
- In your journal, list ways you feel adrift. Then dig a little deeper — to what or whom are you anchored? Finally, list one way in the coming days and weeks you can choose to anchor yourself to Jesus.
- Our Belonging playlist has faithfully played words of truth and hope over us for a few months now. What song meant the most to you on this journey? In what ways have you begun to embrace your True Belonging to Jesus? (comment below!)
- Thank you for journeying with me through this search for True Belonging! Today is the first Sunday of Advent, so I pray that this final post of this series launches you into this holy season of anticipation well — because you KNOW that you belong to Jesus! We’ll be here again next week as we seek to BEHOLD our Savior.