By Jackie Morfesis
On a recent phone conversation, as I was praying over an old friend from my college days, he said, “The Lord is your beloved. He’s mine too” — possibly one of the most beautiful things anyone has ever said to me. In an age when we fall in and out of love so easily, he spoke truth. In an age where obsession, addiction and unhealthy dependence masquerade as love, he spoke truth. In an age where we normalize sin, fearful of standing witness to our faith, succumbing instead to peer pressure and cultural and societal trends, he spoke truth. In an age where we distort, dilute, misappropriate and even defile what “beloved” truly means, my friend spoke truth.
The Lord is my beloved. He will always be my first love, my truest love and my most enduring love. I was created by God. I am His child. “For you formed my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 31:13). And He sent His son to redeem me. To save me. And not only is the Lord our beloved, He is the beloved of His Father: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). God, our Father, gave us His son, our greatest gift. He is beloved of God and He is beloved of us, as is stated in Ephesians 1:6: “To the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved.”
Many times, we see our faith walk as an experience, even a series of events. Sunday liturgy. The holy days. All the rituals and traditions that hold meaning for us. Even our houses of worship represent coming to God’s house. It’s the place where we worship. It’s the place where many of us find God.
Yet if this unusual season has taught us anything, it is that God is not and will never be relegated to any building. Nothing has the power to contain the greatness and goodness of God. Our relationship to God is not mandated by how many times we enter a house of worship. Our relationship to God is predicated upon the intimacy we strive to have and the closeness we desire with the Lord.
Yes, the Lord is not just a symbolic representation of our faith. Someone we honor when we attend service. The Lord should be our most intimate relationship. He is the one who gave His life so that we can live. He is the one who suffered for us on the cross. He is the one who defeated death with death. And He is the one who forgives and forgives again the sins we repeat as human beings who fall short of the glory of God. As is simply said in the Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
There is another dimension to my phone conversation with my friend that bears mentioning. He truly and intimately knows the Lord, not only because he is a faithful Christian but because he is suffering in ways that draw him near to God. When I was finished praying for his physical healing, he asked if there was anything he could give me or do for me.
I asked if he could give me a blessing, and it was one of the most beautiful blessings I have ever received. I heard in his voice not only pathos, not only the extreme tiredness and exhaustion of someone battling a dreadful disease, but the incredible wisdom and untold grace of someone who is in true intimacy with the Lord. When he prayed for me, it was as if I was being ministered to by the angels. He is on the earth but he has been burned in the fire of spirit. His words were anointed. His soul belonged to God. Indeed, the Lord is my friend’s beloved.
After our conversation, I literally could do nothing but be still. I was soaked in the Holy Spirit. I could feel the presence of spiritual healing come over me. It was palpable and tangible.
We need a spiritual revival. A spirit of resurrection. Not only on Easter. Not only during every liturgy that reenacts the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord during the sacrament of communion. We need the spirit of resurrection to infuse our bodies and souls every day.
We need to give not only our intellect to studying God’s word but also our heart to living God’s word. This is true intimacy. This is true love. And this is the depth of love we should all strive for in our relationship with the Lord — who should be, without a doubt, our first and foremost beloved, not only on this earth but for all eternity.
Jackie Morfesis has a BFA in fine arts, an MA in liberal studies and teacher certification from Rutgers University. She held a Rotary Scholarship to Greece in the arts and humanities. An artist, poet and educator, she is a Greek Orthodox Christian and involved with prison ministry in the Charleston area.