For ten years or so, I was one of four people in a faith-sharing group. We had made a commitment to set aside an hour every day for personal prayer, and we got together regularly to discuss what God was doing in our lives. Early on, perhaps the first time I complained of a dry period in prayer, another group member reminded me that I was doing my part: “You just have to show up,” he said. “God does the rest.”
It was the reminder I needed, and it gave me great comfort. In prayer, God does it. I just have to show up—to set aside the time, be open and receptive.
My spiritual director reminded me of this truth the other day when talking about Jesus at the Jordan River. “He just showed up one day,” she said, “and God declared him ‘beloved.’” She went on to suggest I spend some time in the Jordan River hearing God declare me His beloved.
So I spent some time in prayer imaging myself with Jesus in the Jordan River. I could see that he had been showing up for thirty years—being schooled in his faith and attending to his Father’s work—and then on one particular day, God publicly acknowledged it. “This is my beloved Son.”
I am sure Jesus’ whole life was leading up to that declaration. Repeatedly showing up helps to build a strong relationship with God, a foundation upon which one can hear God proclaim, “This is my beloved.”
The winter Jim was sick and we spent some time at the New Jersey shore, I watched the rebuilding of the house next door. It had been taken down to its foundation and was being reconstructed—same foundation but the house that emerged looked nothing like the one it replaced.
It was a great metaphor for what was happening to Jim as cancer had ripped away his life and he had to rebuild. It has also become an inspiring symbol for me as I started a new life in Michigan. Taking a structure back to its foundation creates the possibility for something significantly different from what had been.
Reflecting on spending time in the Jordan and hearing God call me His beloved invites me to attend to my own foundation and to what might need to be torn down and rebuilt. I remind myself that God continually wants to do something new in my life, and even though it can be tedious to go back to my roots, I know it is important.
Each time I return to my foundation and hear God call me “beloved” I can take it in a little deeper. I can let God’s love shore up my foundation and reshape me into someone who believes that I truly am deeply loved by God.