Earlier this week I was in Memphis to celebrate my mother’s eightieth birthday. One part of the days-long celebration was a gathering of my mother’s friends at her house, a collation of a dozen or so women, middle-aged and above, who spent a few hours extolling the virtues of my mom. As I stood among them, I was delighted to see her surrounded by her people, those who are willing to share in her sorrows and stories, to stand amidst her strengths and struggles. As the afternoon progressed, there were times of laughter and tears as the ladies retold their memories of the birthday girl. It was a glory to witness.
I have come to realize that this, in some deep recess of my psyche, was something I needed to know that after eight years of living in a community 1,100 miles from her old neighborhood, my mother had people who cared for her. She had church friends and development friends. She has others to talk with or to cry with. She has women who have taken an interest in her and she has taken an interest in them. It was a comfort to be introduced to people who loved my mother deeply and dearly.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
It is comforting to have ‘people’. It is glorious to know, through Christ, that we can be ‘God’s people’. It is hard to fully comprehend that we are chosen by God to engage with Him personally. As we contemplate this relationship we have with the Almighty creator of the universe, we begin to realize that it is less like meeting a world leader in his ostentatious office and more like my birthday party. We ought to cower in His presence, perhaps, but instead we are warmly and joyfully embraced as we swap stories of sorrow and delight. We have a place beside Him. We are included in the inside jokes. We are part of ‘God’s people’.
There is no one who needs to go their way alone. We are all sojourners and travelers; the residences we occupy are only temporary housing and the companions we make are very changing. Yet, we are, at every turn and through every step, blessed by God with His people to make the journey more glorious. It was a joy to meet some of His people as we celebrated Mum’s birthday. I pray, too, that we all realize this blessing of being, and being surrounded by, God’s chosen people as we make our way through life.