Introductory Note:

Have you ever dared to ask God what He thinks of you? God not only allows us to ask this question, God is longing for us to seek and find His great love for us. Nathan Foster writes: “I have come to believe that God’s love is the central message of Christianity, that living the kingdom life must be born out of an active response to a deep knowing of one’s place as a much-loved daughter or son of the Author of Life.” 

Grace Pouch
Content Manager

Excerpt from The Making Of An Ordinary Saint

God, what do you think about me?”

That was the little self-centered question I kept asking. Once I created enough space in the noise of my life to listen, God answered. In the following years of lonely retreats and long walks and bike rides, my soul began to be bathed in his love. Paradoxically, sometimes the silence brought boredom and sadness; other times I was just left sleepy and empty. A couple of times, I even waited curled in the fetal position, tugging my hair and sobbing. Yet through the years I occasionally entered into the holy hush of God’s love, and through the air drifted the whisper of the most beautiful words:

Oh, little one, there you are — don’t run.
It’s okay to rest.
You don’t have to always keep going.
I am already impressed.
Remember I am for you.
I have always been.
I see how hard you try, how beat-up you feel, your mix of motives and lost dreams.
Just when you think you can’t get any lower, I am there.
Underneath your sadness and below the darkness of your heart, I am there.
Your bottom is my beginning.
When you hurt, I hurt,
and when you open your heart to love, I stand up and applaud.

As the years rolled by, I kept returning to the silence. I kept asking, and I began to form my identity around the answer.

I started seeing glimpses of God’s unconditional love all around me.

I slowly stopped viewing the Bible as a book I needed to understand, manage, or defend, and I started cultivating a deep appreciation for it as the personal stories of a loving Father reaching out to his children. When I moved beyond the cultural nuances, it unfolded as a divinely inspired and often tragic story of love.

I also began to see the created order as God’s first great book. Nature is the only book many throughout history have been exposed to. It is a beautiful tapestry declaring the mystery, goodness, and love of God. Reading such a detailed and rich text seems to require only silence and prayerful listening.

I dug deeper and uncovered God’s love echoed in the writings and experiences of two thousand years of faithful Christ followers. I discovered the words of Jean Pierre de Caussaude: The doctrine of pure love can only be learnt by God’s action, not by any effort of our own spirit.” 1 And I came to cherish the wisdom of Julian of Norwich: God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.” 2

I realized I had been asking the wrong questions about the prodigal son. I believe that if he left he would be welcomed back again and again. I began to understand that if the prodigal son knew the grace, love, and acceptance of his father, he would never want to leave.

I’m really leery when anyone says they have a singular, simple solution to life’s problems, but I have continually found that a clear and deep knowing of God’s love for me has been the key remedy I needed to untangle many of the problems I faced. Whether it was resentments, guilt, relational conflict, obsessive or controlling behaviors, people pleasing, greed, lust, withdrawing, negative self-talk, anger, or trying to find my identity in what I did or in other people, these were all at least in part rooted in my desire and striving to be significant — to be loved.

Through the years, when I felt my actions didn’t measure up or I struggled with sin, I found myself greeting my failures with a gentle smile. I didn’t have to achieve or be perfect. I am loved. Contrary to what I had previously thought, reckless grace didn’t make me complacent. Being accepted just as I am motivated me to give and to love. When I realized I didn’t have to strive, I found I wanted to.

People who know they are deeply loved by God are free to engage reality. People who know they are deeply loved by God freely love others.

Grace. Unconditional love. Acceptance. These truths are often absent from the composition of our communities, religious or not.

Much could be said on this topic, and many others have articulated it better than I can, but I have come to believe that God’s love is the central message of Christianity, that living the kingdom life must be born out of an active response to a deep knowing of one’s place as a much-loved daughter or son of the Author of Life.

I’m accepted. I’m loved. I’m free to achieve and to fail. I don’t have to prove I’m worthy of love or forgiveness. And so it is out of this center that I now approach the spiritual disciplines. … If the spiritual life doesn’t lead us to freedom and grace, then we’ve probably missed the point.”


  1. Jean Pierre de Caussaude, quoted in Quotes from Fr Jean Pierre de Caussade, a French Jesuit Priest (1675 – 1751),” Sozein, 2014, ↩︎
  2. Julian of Norwich, quoted in Elizabeth Spearing, Medieval Writings on Female Spirituality (New York: Penguin, 2002), 206. ↩︎

Taken from The Making of an Ordinary Saint by Nathan Foster. Copyright © 2014 by Nathan Foster. Published by Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Text First Published September 2014 · Last Featured on September 2023