How many of you do words for the year? I know many of you don’t. It isn’t right or wrong to do one or not, but somehow they end up being fitting for me. You can read about my word of the year from last year here. But my word of the year this year is so different than the words I usually chose. What is my 2023 word of the year?
I will be honest, I am not sure I fully grasp what that word means. I know what the word love means. But this is different, and I am not sure the dictionaries definition really captures its meaning.
Beloved: Dearly loved
Dearly loved, and close to the heart are decent definitions. But I want to reflect on the word a bit more as it pertains to being a child of God. I will do this by sharing a story that I was encouraged to share again recently, but then share the redemption story that I didn’t think to ask of pray for.
After college in 2014 I moved to Long Beach, CA. To help ensure my safety, my dad bought me a new car. I would say it was my “dream car”. Navy blue. Illuminated lights, leather seats, and had a sporty feel when it was driven. And it also had what I like to call a fin (otherwise known as a spoiler).
About 9 months later, as I was driving home from a doctors appointment, and I was returning the phone call of someone who had called me 2 months prior. Thankfully it was rush hour, so I was only driving about 35 in the center lane of the 405 (a 5 lane highway), when a piece of plywood flew off the pick up truck in front of me and crashed through my windshield.
It took me a minute to realize what was going on, and that I still had my foot on the gas. I slowed the car to a stop, trying to figure out if I was still alive or in heaven. At that moment a tracker trailer stopped and pulled the piece of wood off of me. I always wonder what he thought he was going to find as he had witnessed the accident. A week prior this happened to another car on a California freeway, and the driver had died instantly.
The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8
A nice couple pulled over and sat with me as I made phone calls trying to find someone to come get me. But back then we weren’t as attached to our phones as we are now. And then they sent me to the hospital. My car had safety glass, so I had 1000’s of splinter sized pieces of glass all over me. In my hear, my eye lashes, in my clothes… everywhere. So they wanted to get me cleaned up the right way and make sure I wasn’t seriously injured.
My car ended up being totaled because of the amount of glass that got into the electrical system of the car. And that was the end of my dream car, which in a way had been taken from me.
Looking back I am always amazed at how God had gone before me, even at a time I wasn’t following in His ways. It was rush hour, so I was driving only 35, I had 3 people pull over to help me, my car had safety glass, and for some reason that day, I returned a phone call I had gotten months before, which caused the wood to hit my wrist, and not my neck. If it weren’t for specific details, the story probably would have ended differently. But God loved me enough to spare my life, even though I definitely didn’t deserve it.
Amazing grace. End of story… actually not really.
Then God did the unexpected…
Around 20 years later I would have another car incident. In 2020 my car was stolen from from my driveway. You can read about it here, but it was quite the 13 week ordeal. Again my car was taken from me. This time it was not my dream car, but I loved, and was safe for my family.
Again my car was totaled, because the person/s who stole the car somehow destroyed the engine.
So I had to go car shopping. After test driving a couple cars that I just wasn’t happy with, I was a bit disappointed. Then I spotted a new car model I had never seen before. When I sat in the car, it felt like my dream car. It looked different on the outside, it was white, and also a small SUV. But the inside was exactly the same. The illuminated lights. The leather seats. The sporty way it drove.
I knew that was my car. It was more than my car. It was in a way redemption. God giving me back what was taken from me. It was something that I didn’t ask for, and definitely didn’t expect. But I felt so loved and seen by God.
Actually I didn’t just feel loved, I felt dearly loved safe, and secure, and close to God’s heart. I felt beloved. And as I look back on these moments, I see just how much God loves me, by His graceful care for me, even thought I don’t deserve it.
Several time in the New Testament the writers of the chapters use the word “beloved” when they are addressing the people who they are writing to. The one I share with you today is Jude 1:20-21
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
The word for “beloved” in Greek here is translated further as “esteemed, dear, favorite, worthy of love”. And as His beloved daughter, that is how He would call out to us if we earnestly seek Him and His ways. The word “keep” is translated as to attend to carefully, or guard. I think of a precious piece of jewelry here. Something you don’t want lost of stolen, or broken.
May I suggest that we treat ourselves that way, guarding ourselves, and attending to ourselves carefully by abiding in His love. So as we continue in 2023, may we, as beloved daughters keep ourselves in His great love, and keep looking for His mercy and kindness of Jesus, until we are with Him face to face.
We stay rooted in His word, walking in His ways, and believing He works everything for His glory and our good.
And as we do this, we will see His love for us, and look back and say God has done more than we could ask or imagine.
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