This past summer I was at home one night watching the ESPYs with my daughter. Anyone that knows my daughter very well at all knows that she is a huge Peyton Manning fan; I think it had something to do with the fact that she got his autograph and a picture made with him when she was in first grade. Well anyway, Peyton was scheduled to make an appearance on the ESPYs, so we sat down to watch. For those of you that saw it, I'm sure you'll remember that Peyton was there to present Pat Summitt with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award; his words to her filled to overflowing with kindness and respect and the utmost admiration...classic Peyton Manning. After his introduction there was about a ten minute video on Coach Summitt's life and achievements that was narrated by Reese Witherspoon. Now I'll have to admit, I was not much of a Reese Witherspoon fan at that point...but I am now. It was absolutely beautiful! It was filled with person after person telling their story of how Pat Summitt had impacted them, and how much she means to them, and what kind of amazing person she is. And after the video she came forward with her son and humbly and gracefully accepted this prestigious award; it was just incredibly powerful.
I sat there in awe of the whole thing, not really knowing what to say, not really able to move, and deeply, deeply affected by it all. In fact, after everyone had gone to bed that night, I went back and watched the whole thing again, wondering why it had impacted (and was continuing to impact) me so profoundly. Whatever it was doing in me would just not go away, so I continued to reflect on it. Sitting in the dark, unable to sleep, I began to pray: "Lord, what is going on in me? What is it about this video that affected me so deeply? What is this all about? What are you trying to say to me?" Not really sensing any answer, and content with just wondering, I decided to go to bed. I got changed and laid down in the bed, still miles and miles from sleep. And as my spirit calmed and my mind cleared, I heard that oh so familiar Voice whisper in the ear of my Spirit, "You desperately want people to feel that way about you." And the tears began to roll down my cheeks because I knew it was the truth. It was not a voice of accusation, you know, the one you and I hear so often, the one that immediately turns us toward guilt and shame. But instead it was the Voice of One who loves me deeply and wants me to know the truth of my own heart. And so I sat with (I guess technically I was lying with) this recognition, or revelation, or whatever you might want to call it; grateful for the space and the silence to take in this truth and allow it to speak. But then, a few moments later, the Voice again whispered deeply into my heart and soul: "I feel that way about you." And then the tears came full-force as I was held in the intimately loving embrace of the One who knows me like no other and loves me more than I could ever ask or image. That night, that Voice, and those sweet words will mark me for a long, long time. It was the night when my Father, in His infinite tenderness, drew His mouth close to my ear and whispered His great affection to me. Thanks be to God!!!