It’s probably among the top five stories I love to tell – tell others, yes, but also myself. Entitled “Chosen for…”, Pastor Janet Wolff shared it a few years ago in an Upper Room publication:
In a world that pronounces so many of us “not good enough,” what might it mean to believe that we really are chosen, precious, and beloved?
In a new members class we talked about baptism: this holy moment when we are named by God’s grace with such power it won’t come undone.
Fayette was there—a special needs woman… living on the streets, struggling with mental illness and lupus. She loved the part about baptism and would ask over and over again, “And when I’m baptized, I am…?” We soon learned to respond, “Beloved, precious child of God and beautiful to behold.” “Oh Yes!” she’d say, and then we could go back to our discussion.
The big day came. Fayette went under, came up sputtering, and cried, “And now I am…?” and we all sang, “Beloved, precious child of God and beautiful to behold.” “Oh Yes!” she shouted as she danced all around fellowship hall.
Two months later I got a call. Fayette had been beaten and abused and was at the county hospital. So I went. I could see her from a distance, pacing back and forth. When I got to the door, I heard, “I am beloved…” She turned and saw me and said, “I am beloved, precious child of God, and …” Catching sight of herself in the mirror – hair sticking up, and tears streaking her face, dress torn, dirty, and re-buttoned askew, she started again, “I am beloved, precious child of God and …” She looked in the mirror again and declared, “God is still working on me. And, If you come back tomorrow, I’ll be so beautiful I’ll take your breath away!”
To be sure, dear Soul,
the world can put its labels on us.
Life can knock us down –
threatening to break us.
Still, beyond all the blood
and tears and grief and doubts,
a Voice, a Word is never entirely lost
to our heart’s ears:
“I am beloved,
a precious child of God,
beautiful to behold.”
Oh that we could hear it
and believe it…
and declare it!
What a difference it would make,
I am convinced, in a contentious world!
You are beloved!
You are a precious child of God!
You are beautiful to behold!