PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
“You who have no money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
It’s an interesting marketing strategy to invite someone with no money to buy something. I highly doubt any of us would invite someone who we know clearly doesn’t have any money to go shopping, let alone would we ask them to buy something from us.
As I read this verse, I’m curious about Isaiah’s word choice. What’s the point in using the word buy if there’s no cost or money involved? Why not just say: “Come and get this; it’s free”? I believe the contradiction is meant to catch our attention—to cause us to pause and wonder. So, we’ll set up camp around this word today—buy—and see if there’s anything the Spirit might want to say to us.
Just as we come with nothing, we must learn to buy with nothing. To receive. Why? Because what we receive cannot be bought with money. It’s priceless. We cannot afford it.
Psychoanalyst George Benson suggests that our “willingness to receive the love of God and others without earning it is at the heart of both psychological and spiritual growth.”1 Love, when given unconditionally, has the power to transform and change us in a way nothing else can.
Sadly, many of us don’t allow ourselves to be loved in this way. There’s a big difference between understanding a general concept of unconditional love and living in the embrace of it.
There’s a good bit of talk around self-love these days. Deemed essential to human mental, physical, and relational health, self-love encourages people to accept themselves for who they are (the good and the bad), practice self-compassion, and forgive themselves for making mistakes.2 At its core, the concept reveals the human desire and fundamental need for unconditional love in order to flourish.
Ironically, one of the most significant barriers to receiving the unconditional love of God is actually myself. I have a tendency to think God loves me in the way that I love me. If I feel good about who I am, then it’s easy to know God loves me. But if I feel bad about who I am, because of something I’ve done, failed at, or didn’t do, his love can appear much more questionable.
Thank goodness there’s a better way. We have access to a love far greater than any version we could give ourselves because it’s rooted in the love of a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God’s love is a reflection of his character—not ours. His heart toward us does not change. His love changes us.
We see this clearly on the last pages of our Bibles where the prophetic invitation of Isaiah is transformed into a final declaration: “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life’” (Rev. 21:5–6).
As we live in the embrace of this love, we are transformed by it. All things are made new. We begin to take on the shape of love, reflecting what we receive back to God and to those around us. This is the purpose we were created for and the end toward which all creation is heading.
Unconditional love is met with an unconditional response. All of me is given over to Jesus. This is not a one-time thing, but an all-the-time, everyday, moment-by-moment surrender. With every yes, every bit of myself that I give up, I actually become more and more who I was created to be.
Receiving God’s love for us results in loving ourselves. Not because we decided we were worth it, but because he did. This love costs nothing to buy because it cost everything to give. Leave your money behind. Will you receive it?
Jesus, thank you for revealing the boundless, unconditional, unchanging love of the Father. Everything I truly need is available in you. I’m sorry for the ways I attempt to buy what you freely and joyfully give, trusting more in my behavior than your unchanging affection for me. Holy Spirit, draw me further up and further into the love of the Father. Resting in your embrace, I receive your love for me. Amen.
Inviting the Holy Spirit to guide me, I ask myself these questions:
- Honestly, how receptive am I to love I did not earn? Are there any barriers that keep me from receiving this kind of love?
- How would I explain the difference between understanding God’s unconditional love for me in theory versus living in the reality of it?
For the Awakening,
Anna Grace Legband
- Quoted in George Benson, Surrender to Love, 74.
- https://bbrfoundation.org/blog/self-love-and-what-it-means and https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/how-to-practice-self-love/.