Longing to Belong

FriendsWhere did this come from–this desire for connectedness with other people? There may be several reasons, but the one that trumps all others, to my way of thinking, is this: God is highly social, and he created us in his image.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have never been alone. They always have each other’s company, and thrive in it. The strong bond of love and partnership that exists among them stands out to me in examples like these:

  • Twice, when Jesus was on earth, the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved Son.”
  • John 3:16 does not say: “The Son so loved the world that he came, so that whoever believes in him should not perish . . .” If I had written it, that’s what I would have said. After all, Jesus loved us so much he volunteered to die for us. But Jesus highlighted his Father’s love: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son“–showing amazing empathy for how hard it was for his Father to send him.
  • When Jesus described for his disciples what the Holy Spirit would do for them, he said,  “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit’s whole passion is to help us know Jesus better.

The three Persons of the Trinity are each other’s greatest fans. They know what a rich relationship is all about. It shouldn’t surprise us that such a social God would say:

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).

 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Why do we crave connectedness to God and to people? We were created for close, supportive relationships–relationships full of delight and satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to talk to God about your social needs and challenges. He will help bring health into that part of your life.

I Belong to Somebody

A pesky fly kept hovering around my three-year-old granddaughter Nikki and me as we glided back and forth on the porch swing. I brushed it away a few times then began singing a folk tune:

Shoo, fly; don’t bother me

Shoo, fly; don’t bother me

Shoo, fly; don’t bother me

For I belong to somebody.

Nikki & Connor

Nikki & Connor

Flippantly, I asked Nikki, “Do you belong to somebody?”

She nodded vigorously.

“Well!” I thought, “I wonder what she’s thinking.”

I soon found out. In a tiny whisper, she said, “Mommy, Daddy, Baby Connor.”

She had a warm, secure sense of belonging.

Some of us don’t. The good news is: regardless of the breakdown of human relationships, we can all feel special and connected–because of God’s overwhelming love for us.

There are some statements in the Bible that melt my heart.

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself (Exodus 19:4 NIV).  The Lord is talking here about how he rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and brought them–not “to Mt. Sinai,” not “to the the Promised Land,” but “to myself.”

As Jesus rode in Jerusalem a few days before his arrest and crucifixion, he said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37 NIV). 

During Jesus’s last prayer in the company of his disciples, he prayed first for his disciples then for all who would believe on him. In that part of his prayer (which includes me, and hopefully you) he said:  “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory” (John 17:24). It wasn’t good enough to finally be returning to his home in heaven–he wanted to take his beloved followers with him.

Such is the tender affection of God toward us! Such is his desire to gather us into a relationship with him that will heal our hearts and put us on the path to total fulfillment.

I just re-read today some words by Francis Frangipane, founder of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said that “everything that defines us” is influenced by what we believe about the true nature of God. “If we do not believe God cares about us, we will be overly focused on caring for ourselves. If we feel insignificant or ignored by God, we will exhaust ourselves by seeking significance from others. However, once we realize that God truly loves us . . . we can find rest and renewed power for our souls.” *

There’s not one of us who cannot “belong to somebody”–to God, our maker, our shepherd, our redeemer, our Father, our divine friend. What if you want to believe that, but you’re just not feeling it? Read the Bible, looking for his care and his affection. Think deeply about it. Talk to him. Tell him you want to really know him.  You want to know he loves you. He has been waiting for you to ask.

 Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8 NIV).

___________

*Francis Frangipane, And I Will Be Found By You, (Cedar Rapids: Arrow Publications, 2009), p.83.