Lori has been married to her college sweetheart, Doug, for 39 years. She has 3 married children and 8 grandchildren. After raising her family in Bremerton, Washington, she moved to Medford, Oregon where her door is always open to family and friends. An avid thrifter, she enjoys the hunt for hidden treasures.
HIS BANNER OVER ME
Pressing my lips close to my granddaughter’s ear, I whispered, “Did I tell you that I love you?” Smile widening, she giggled, “Grammy, you always say that.” I try to speak this seed of truth as a benediction over my grandkids whenever I see them. One of the reasons for this declaration is that for many years I struggled with the concept of being loved, especially by God.
As a child, I learned a song based on Song of Solomon 2:4 — “I’m my beloved’s and he is mine. His banner over me is love.” I would sing it with gusto, hands raised overhead mimicking a waving banner. In my newborn faith, my heart was only dimly aware of the meaning behind this beautiful mystery. In my teenage years, although I read the Bible, I didn’t let the words sink in and take root. Instead, every evening I did a mental checklist to see if I’d accomplished enough to earn God’s love. The outcome of my calculations varied. Like a neon light, some days it would say, “passable” or “doing good.” While other times, in bold text, it flashed, “loser,” “broken,” “rejected.” Basing my identity and ability to be loved on my performance was exhausting. I hungered for God’s approval, but by my own estimation, I was never going to get it. And so, a self-hatred began to form deep inside and spill into my other relationships.
Our eight grandchildren
Twenty years ago, my sister shared a book that gave me tools to thwart the lies I’d been believing. The Search for Significance, by Robert McGee, had a simple, yet profound premise: false accusations, like burning fire, can rain down on our thoughts. When they do, we need to snuff them out with truths found in scripture. I began diligently searching for verses to apply to my wounded spirit. In awe, I read and chose to believe, “that I was chosen and loved before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4-5). “Nothing, in all of creation, could separate me from His love” (Romans 5:8). The promises were plentiful and I started to memorize key ones to remind myself when I became discouraged. The beauty of God’s word is that it is living and active throughout the ages, at all times and for every circumstance.
I still find it hard to fully comprehend how God can see my sin and yet pursue me in love. Somehow these polar opposites, like magnets, draw together in a tight bond. Author and pastor, Timothy Keller, sums it up like this:
“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe. At the same time, we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
Ephesians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. In chapter 3 verses 16-19, the apostle Paul bestows blessings over us. Let it take residence inside you: “I pray that out of his glorious riches, God may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.”
Recently, I came across this powerful song by Rachel Lampa and Toby Mac. It reaches to the deepest longing in all of our hearts, to be “Perfectly Loved”. May the beauty of song and dance reaffirm your identity in Christ today.
Written by Lori Hanson for The Anchor Journal
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