I want you to know…Jesus wants you to know, God is for you, he is with you, and he is before you. In all things and in all ways, he is for you. He looks at you and beams, “That’s my child, and I am well pleased with him…with her!” And he is always with you. He is even out before you, leading the way.
And when you “take hold of that,” you will begin to see him out before you, leading the way, clearing the way, and making your paths straight (Prov. 3:5-6)…even amidst the crooked, rocky, and scary detours on which we often find ourselves.
So, given this assurance, God says through the Apostle Paul, “I want you to take hold of that for which my Son took hold of you.” God is saying to you…to you…today, “I have a plan, a purpose for you, and I want you to take hold of it. I don’t want you to miss out on anything I have for you.” Because you are…
God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do. Eph. 2:10
The Greek word for “workmanship” would be better translated as “craftsmanship.” Craftsmanship indicates high quality, unique quality, individualized attention, personal pride, and the “finest of wines.” In God’s eyes, you are designer quality. Nothing off-the-rack about you.
Following Jesus, as you learn to take hold of that, means you are participating relationally and personally in his individualized plan and purpose for you. It is not like wandering around in a big-box store, frustrated and desperately hoping to find an employee for some guidance and help.
Because Jesus is for you, he is with you, and he is out before you. Always.
He encourages you with this promise:
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. Matt. 6:30, MSG
Do you truly believe God is for you? Come on, now…Don’t give me the Sunday-school answer. You might assume he loves you because, ”God so loved the world” (John 3:16).
But do you think he likes you? Is he your friend? He does, and he can be. Taking hold of that means seeing that Jesus laughs with you and smiles with you at your idiosyncrasies. He is pleased with you, even proud of you, even though you cannot possibly understand why. He says, “That’s my boy! Isn’t he wonderful?” And, “Look at her. I’m so proud of her!”
That is all about feeling energy and enthusiasm from Jesus, positive reinforcement…not disapproval and condemnation.
Do you remember that poor girl caught in adultery and tossed down at Jesus’ feet? Listen to his delicate response to her:
Jesus straightened up and asked her, ”Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” ”No one, sir,” she said. ”Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. ”Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11
“I want you to ‘leave your life of sin’ because I am with you, and I will help you to do so. But ‘neither do I condemn you,’” Jesus is saying.
Jesus will not accept your sinful ways, precisely because he is so much for you. He knows how heavy and burdensome your sins and dysfunctions are, and he wants you to leave them behind. But this is a far cry from negative condemnation. Instead, he is calling you to follow him as he walks with you and even out before you.
May you allow Jesus to fully take hold of you, as you press on to take hold of him, living “freely and lightly, learning the unforced rhythms of his grace” (Matt. 11:28-30, MSG).