[Part 3, Chapter 20]
I can’t remember the exact date when I knew Julie and I were the ones for each other, but I vividly recall the precise moment. It was in the second half of 1983, we were in my Datsun 1600, driving along Hackney Road, the Botanic Gardens on one side, the Hackney Hotel on the other. Neither of us were talking, the radio was switched off, it was silent … and it didn’t feel weird.
Without knowing it at the time, what we’d experienced was intimacy.
Favour leads to intimacy.
Favour is not just grace given, but a connection established, a relationship entered into.
With favour, we know we’re deeply loved, and so we relax into that love. We don’t have to say anything to generate that love or to draw it out of the other person. It is freely given and freely received.
With favour, we know we’re deeply loved, and so we fail into that love. We run to that love when we’re tempted and sin. It is our haven, our safe place, our rescue, our hope-restoring sure anchor.
It’s where our name is known, affection is given, and companionship is shared.
It is where we are called his beloved. Whispered tenderly to us, shouted as a boast to others, declared over us as a benediction.
“This is my boy, my man, my beloved!” he declares, photo album out, showing you around.
Then to you, “I love you, my son.”
“This is my girl, my princess, my daughter, my beloved!” he pronounces, breathing in the scent from your favourite jumper.
Then to you, “I love you, my daughter.”
It joins us to him and keeps us united in him, intimately connected, blood relatives through Jesus’ death on the cross. My beloved is mine and I am his and his banner over me is love (Song of Solomon 2:4, 16).
I respond in intimacy and out of the intimacy I’ve received. It is my source of healing. I sing him hymns and songs expressing my love. I read his love letter, his words to me in the bible, to grow deeper into his heart. I talk to him, sit with him, listen to him. I follow him. His life becomes mine. I am wrapped up in him.
That’s the closest connection you can have: he is in me, and I am in him. United. Abiding. Favoured. Protected. Fuelled and filled.
But above all, loved.