Before church, I pray that God would speak His love and approval to me. After a week of spiritual battle and deep conviction regarding my drive to please others, I need His reassurance. Before the words leave my mouth, however, I recognize my half-belief, my cynical thoughts that He will withhold His love from me or that I am not worthy of it anyway. Lord, help my unbelief.
He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me.
I sing to Him a song about me but way more about Him. Yes, He loves me, but the emphasis is that He loves. Our God loves, and His love is immeasurable. If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking. My eyes well up at the thought of how big that love is. I sing, rejoice, and worship Him, that He is my God. How He must delight when His children recognize that He is good and that He loves.
A verse comes to mind then that takes me by surprise:
In that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
"Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
The Lord your God in your midst
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
He rejoices over me? He sings to me? God is speaking into my heart that He loves my worship, but He wants me to hear His singing over me. He wants me to hear His truth: His love. His singing over me is not His worship of me, but simply a Father singing a lullaby to His child: a moment of affection and intimacy and reassurance. This is His answer to my morning prayer.
I hesitate, pushing Him away. No, it cannot be. I must be imagining this. Why do I do this? Even then, He responds, lifting my eyes like I lift my son's chin when I want his undivided attention. Receive, child. I love you. Let my love sink down deep into the marrow of your life. Know it in your past, in your parenting, in your ministry, in your marriage, in your friendships, and in your future. Know it in your sin and failures. Know it in my cross and resurrection.
Beyond giving me the reassurance I asked for, I know what He is saying: when you are sinking in an ocean of love, don't seek the baby pool of others' approval. I love you, I really do, and I am enough.
I hear Him, I really do. And I love that He is responsive in worship, not merely sitting mutely on the throne of our praises.
I look for the context of Zephaniah 3:16-17 and, in 14-15, this is what I find:
Sing, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away your judgments,
He has cast out your enemy.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.
I worship at what I've received, and He responds with His love.
And I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way
He loves us.