The power of words to change hearts is something I will never fully understand. Appreciate? Yes. Understand? No.
A certain survey asked Americans what they longed to hear someone say to them. Three answers stood out. The first one is no surprise. “I love you.” The second one you might have guessed. “I forgive you.” But the third one might make you scratch your head. “Supper’s ready.”
Who doesn’t want to be loved? And don’t we all long to be forgiven? These two reflect a spiritual and emotional hunger universal to humanity. “Suppers ready” reveals more than just a need for food but for fellowship and communion — that too is a spiritual and emotional need.
In his book Courage To Be Healed, author Mark Rutland pondered these three answers to the survey. (1) Then it hit him. “That is the whole gospel…That is the threefold announcement at every communion service. Every time the church is invited to the Lord’s table…the message from God is always the same:
“I love you.”
“I forgive you.”
Eloquence is a word used to describe the articulate quality to express oneself and persuade others. How ironic that the words we most long to hear do not require poetic symmetry, grandiose terminology, or eloquence. We long to be loved, to be forgiven, for fellowship.
Knowing that you are loved unconditionally is a humbling experience. Having sinned against God and others, the need for forgiveness is one we may reluctantly admit, but, nevertheless, is an ache that sooner or later must be addressed.
As a man who has stumbled many times over the years, I have often found myself on repentant knees before the Throne of Grace seeking restoration. Now, those three most common survey answers make sense, as those are the words I hear with each confession.
“I still love you.”
“I still forgive you.”
Courage To be Healed by Mark Rutland, Charisma House Publishers, 2019, pg 116-117.
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