So there I was (this is how we start personal stories in our family) just after a very fun Christmas. For reasons beyond the scope of this devotional space, I was full tilt towards a Personal Pity Party. You know the PPP refrain…I’m not important to anyone, no one puts me as their first priority, I’m there for everyone else but no one….blah (personal) blah (pity) blah (party, table for one). And just at the self-righteous, whiney PPP crescendo, I had the most amazing realization. The entirety of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ begins with this very realization: I am God’s first concern!!! The entire arc of salvation from creation to consummation (beginning to end, alpha to omega as we say in the scriptural biz) is because God’s first concern is….me. God wants us, theologically speaking, to be a thang! You know, a Gumpian peas and carrots, Sandy and Danny’s We Go Together, carve the heart into the tree trunk, long walks on the beach, Randy Travis’ drawly I’ll Love You Forever and Ever Amen kinda thang. Christ’s entire life from pre-existent majesty to humble earthly birth to passion and death and resurrection….all to get my attention to wake up and receive God’s lavishly overwhelming love for eternity! Mind-numbing!
So the bible writers refer to my realization as being the apple of God’s eye, and we assume that God really really loves a good, crisp apple! For God so loved…me. On the night He was betrayed Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke and bread and gave it to…me. As my evangelical Episcopalian (oh yes we can use those two descriptors in the same sentence!) summer camp counselor reassured me, Even if you are the only human being who has ever lived….well, you can surmise the rest. This bracing, full-body moment of comprehension shook the livin’ PPP right outta me! Our heavenly Father is there for me before there even WAS a me! He’s waiting to stroll with me in the soul garden’s shady, cool afternoon. He awaits me when I’ve bankrupted my inner spirit in…what’s that super-polite British Oxfordian term for sleezy spiritual prostitution again..oh, right, uh, dissolute living, just like the ridiculously generous Father of that prodigal idiot son who sounds so suspiciously familiar when I’m being candid. God can come in cloud and lighting and tempest when He feels dramatic, or more often, in that still, small voice always more ready to speak than we to listen. He sows His abundant gracious seed upon every soil I have, knowing some tares will grow alongside the wheat. Every now and again, I’m so much God’s first concern that He’ll toss me overboard when I flee Him, and send a great big emotive fish to swallow me up to have that Come to Jonah do I have your attention now one-on-one visit He occasionally uses to re-direct me.
So there I was…crying in deep gratitude for God’s prevailing attention, gentle presence, and loving embrace. The party invite transformed from pity to joy, Epiphany all in a single moment! I am the apple of God’s eye, hidden under the providential shadow of God’s elegant and protective wings. And dear readers, there is so much room here! God is God because you too are the singular apple of God’s eye. Want to party?