Authentic. Humble. Gracious. Wise. Kind. These are the words that come to mind when I think of my friend Christy Nockels. She’s written songs we sing loudly and has stood on stages leading thousands of fellow believers in the most beautiful worship. Yet when God called her to lay down her ministry for a season, Christy was forced to confront how her sense of purpose and worth had become tangled up in her work. God then lovingly invited her to discover true rest in His presence as she learned to live as the Beloved. And now, she shares how that pivotal lesson shapes all she is and all she does, and even all she does not do. It’s my joy to welcome Christy to the farm’s front porch today…
At the end of 2017, I found myself wanting to hold on to every last bit of cozy that celebrating Christmas brings but also ready to kick to the curb all the clutter that I could see piling up in my house.
I began to crave the clean slate of remembering Jesus in the form of a fresh year and a new beginning. So I made plans.
Like, hit-the-ground-running kind of plans for the new year: Word for the year? Check! Game plan to purge my house of clutter? Check! Themes laid out for my podcast for the next six months? Check! I was going to get organized, study, and create as I thrived my way into the new year!
Yet only eight days into 2018, I found myself sitting in an ENT’s office while he dropped on me the diagnosis of sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
I’d gone in to address what I thought was a possible ear infection. I remember how the doctor’s mouth moved as he spoke but I was grasping only about every other word, not because of my hearing loss but because I was in disbelief. I did gather that an MRI might be a good idea to rule out the big stuff that could be causing the hearing loss, like a tumor.
The MRI, a few days later, produced only more questions as I was told that I’d need to have a neurosurgeon look at a spot on my brain. So much for all that clear direction on what my year was supposed to look like!
I remember scrolling through Instagram, feeling sidelined while watching everyone else suit up and take the field.
Most afternoons that winter you could find me tucked beneath my bedcovers, watching snow fall outside, while my ears roared with tinnitus. It was borderline maddening, as well as physically and emotionally alarming, to hear this persistent swish and hum in my ears.
All kinds of fears surfaced. Will I always hear this roaring in my ears? Could I lose my hearing completely?
I imagined the loss of so many beautiful sounds that I love: the music of my husband’s soothing voice, the harmony that I hear in my children’s laughter, and the gentle rush of the wind through the trees that surround our country home.
Yet God met me here in this big change of plans. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming because He’s been meeting me like this over and over through the years.
For a multitude of reasons that I may never understand, God used the brokenness of my physical ears to compel me to place the ears of my soul against His heart, desperate to truly hear from Him.
If I had started that year full speed ahead, with healthy ears, I shudder to think about all that my spiritual ears would have missed out on.
Imagine if you and I were to sit down together to get acquainted, and before we begin, someone gives us specific parameters for our conversation, guidelines to help us skip the small talk and go straight to the meaningful stuff. You and I are challenged to introduce ourselves without alluding to anything we do or have done in terms of a vocation or trade. We are told to focus only on our interior lives and matters of the heart.
I believe that at some point in our conversation, our Belovedness would inevitably start spilling out. Beloved.
This is the one big something that I know is true of you: you are God loved, which is essentially what the name Beloved means. I find it beautiful that God both made us in His image and named us in His image. First John 4:8 says, “God is love,” and then all throughout Scripture you and I are called Beloved—or as the Greek says, “loved by God.” It’s as if we’re the response to who He is, and right from the start, He is the fulfillment of our greatest need: to be loved.
As the Beloved of God, we can be sure that He is relentless in revealing places in our hearts that He’s not done fighting for. He loves us that much.
When I think about all the hurry-up-and-wait and the things-didn’t-go-as-planned seasons of my life, I’m suddenly aware of how those seasons have brought more forward movement and fulfillment than anything else I can remember. I have to believe it’s because those seasons drew me back into remembrance not only of who I am but, most important, of whose I am. Throughout my life the Lord has shown up in relentlessly loving ways to draw me in and show me who and whose I am.
I’ve come face to face with the fact that there is an enemy of my soul working hard to keep me from living from my truest self.
In fact, you and I both are in the middle of a battle with this enemy.
I can’t help but think of a home movie from when I was about three years old, singing my favorite song. I was a ’70s baby, so this movie is silent. But because I was doing little hand motions to the song, I can tell that it was the first worship song I ever learned, which says, “I’m my Beloved’s and He is mine; His banner over me is love.”
The most endearing thing about the whole picture is that I have a toy rifle strapped around my chest as I’m singing! It makes me giggle because it’s such evidence that I was the only girl being raised with all brothers and boy cousins. But recently as I watched it again, I couldn’t help but be filled with the truth that worship is a weapon.
Worship is simply our response to God, and learning to live as the Beloved is a beautiful response.
It’s always our best defense against a soul-killing, identity-stealing enemy.
And once we start to live from our own Belovedness, we begin to fight on behalf of others so that they can live and rest in it too!
Beloved, hear me fighting for you when I say God’s banner over you is love!
In fact, I believe that He’s calling you to come and rest and live underneath that banner even now.
You and I actually have a real-life mediator who is here to help us get to the heart of the matter. His name is Jesus.
He was the first one to be called Beloved by His Father, and we have been called by His name.
Christy Nockels is a worship leader and singer-songwriter with a passion for writing and speaking. She has toured nationwide, recorded seven #1 radio singles, and eight acclaimed albums. Her podcast, The Glorious in the Mundane, inspires listeners to see both their big dreams and the seemingly small things in a whole different way.
Her new book The Life You Long For shows us how to let go of hustle and achievement and instead find our identity in the quiet center of God’s love. As we delight in being with Him, we are filled to overflowing with contentment and love that propel us into an entirely new way of being, one in which every act of service and every encounter with the people around us arise from a heart at rest.
With irresistible warmth and grace, this book calls you to step fully into the life you didn’t even realize you’ve been seeking, as you find your highest calling not in a duty to uphold but in a beautiful identity to live out.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]