“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:14-17
Edward Farrell, a priest from Detroit, MI devoted two weeks of his summer vacation in the country of Ireland to visit relatives. The highlight and centerpiece of his visit was the 80th birthday celebration of his only living uncle – Uncle Seamus.
The morning of that great day of celebration, Edward and Uncle Seamus woke up very early. It was before the dawn, before the sun had risen over the sea and the Irish coastline. Uncle Seamus asked Edward to accompany him along the shores of Lake Killarney to usher in this new day – his 80th birthday.
As they strolled along the shoreline, they paused to watch the sunrise. They actually stood in silence for almost 20 full minutes as they soaked in the glory, majesty, and beauty of the sun coming up over the horizon, its rays dancing on the water, the slow illumination of what had been covered in darkness now radiating with warmth and light. Edward glanced at his Uncle Seamus, and he saw a grin – a delighted smile began to part his lips, spread across his 80 year-old face, and brighten his whole appearance.
Edward broke the silence, as he commented, “Uncle Seamus, you look very happy.”
Uncle Seamus replied, “I am.”
Edward dug a little further, “How Come?”
And his uncle replied with these beautiful words, “The Father of Jesus is very fond of me, very fond of me, indeed!”
With that Edward watched as his uncle clicked his heels and once again resumed his stroll into the dawn of the new day. Edward was left to wonder at that kind of confident, delighted acceptance by the Father.
Do you honestly believe that God likes you? Not that He loves you because theologically he must love you, but that God likes you, enjoys you, delights in you? Or, as Uncle Seamus knew, God is “fond of you, very fond of you, indeed”?
When God sent his prophet Zephaniah to minister to His people, God’s people had abandoned Him. They lived lives of unfaithfulness, rebellion, and selfish pride. They had taken God and his grace for granted and concluded that as a consequence God would do the same to them.
He would forget and abandon His people because of their rebellion and unfaithfulness. Zephaniah did call God’s people to account for their sin but more importantly he reminded them of a timeless, tremendously encouraging truth: God was present in their midst, powerful to save, and singing, rejoicing, delighting in them with loud singing.
Perhaps you are tempted to view God as a police officer who is trailing you with his lights turned off, waiting for you to slip up so that he can arrest you and read your offenses and punishments. Perhaps you imagine that God intends to scold you out of your sin, waywardness, and selfish pride. Perhaps you feel more that God tolerates you and that his patience is thin and his love subject to change at any moment.
However, through Zephaniah, God wants you to know that he is very fond of you, very fond, indeed! He takes great delight in you. He rejoices over you – not with a scolding voice of impatience and exasperation – but with a beautifully loud, musical voice of singing.
The content of his song over you today is that the Savior’s work of redeeming and rescuing is done – that you are welcomed as his cherished child, that all of your offenses are blotted out by Jesus’ love and sacrifice – that He is very fond of you, very fond, indeed.
Open your ears to the God who sings over you with love. He wants you to hear the music of grace!