Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ – Matthew 28:16-20
There is a kind of messy exuberance to springtime. Fat green stems push into the air, unfurl voluminous leaves and explode blossoms that gush with color. Even the spindly tree in the alley blooms, filling the air with extravagant perfumes. The soil plumps up with moisture. A tiny bristle of grass appears along the edges of the yard. The squirrels go crazy and chase each other across bouncing, high branches. Calves are born. Nests are built.
This ebullience of the world feels like God. God comes to me, passionate and sloppy, and God’s love is audacious, overstated to the point of goofiness. Like a happy dog it crashes through all my boundaries and slobbers all over me, stepping on my toes and shedding hair onto my trousers. Even when I scowl and thrust out my arms against it, there is no hope. It teases me out of my pompous stuffiness, wagging, “it doesn’t matter” to all my concerns about whether or not I’m doing things right or well enough. “I don’t care,” it tells me. “I only care about you – the real you – the behind-the-scenes you.”
Although it lifts my heart, I still find it hard to believe in God’s joyous regard. Surely it could not be real! How could God insinuate God’s self into the murky reaches of my soul this way?
But spring itself is real enough. And so is the love people have for their beloveds. Both are mysteries beyond comprehension, and both are often dismissed simply because they are more common. It is better if I don’t, out of some misplaced sentiment of not being good enough or pure enough or whatever else my mind conjures up, miss God’s jaw-dropping devotion.
So I ask instead, what could God’s ardent love mean? What is the reason for such a display?
When God squeezed God’s self into human form, lived among us, died and conquered death, we all learned our value. Each of us is rarer than any diamond. Unique and precious beyond measure – born once and never again to be repeated in all the eons of creation – we fill God with delight and joy. We matter profoundly.
When I think about the Great Commission I realize that this is the message I want to send out into the world: God’s messy, goofy love. I hope you will notice just how important you are. We all need to notice just how important each of us is – how not one of us is expendable.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: Calla Lilies by Ann Fontaine©