God loves me, and He likes me too

Grandma’s Sunday best was a tailor-made Cheongsam; a Chinese dress with a stiff stand-up collar. She rarely left the flat besides on Sundays. Sundays were always the same. We each had duties on different floors of our 17-storey church building near central Hong Kong. Grandma was the attendance-taker in her bible class of elderly ladies. Dad was a deacon, Mom conducted the choir and my sister and I helped in the nursery. I didn’t like the chore of putting flat sheets over baby mattresses but doing that made church feel like home. I “gave my life to Jesus” several times during those years. I didn’t have a reason not to. 

Growing up, I connected easily with the idea that God loved the world. I soaked in my parents’ conversations with their friend who visited on furlough every few years from Côte D’Ivoire. I remember going to the harbour to visit a big ship with a bookstore (who came up with an idea like that!?!). I was marked by the thought that my parents’ friend Ms. Chan lived on board because she wanted to share God’s love with the world. I felt chills whenever I sang songs that connected Jesus to all nations. When a preacher encouraged us to ask God about our vocation, I already had an answer in my gut: to travel the world and communicate God’s love through music. I had a faint inkling that this had something to do with the “chills,” but the dots didn’t connect till a couple of decades later. Back then, I believed that God’s love was an important truth for the whole world, but I thought of it more as a lesson to be learnt, or a concept to grasp.  

At that time, my heart was set on the trumpet, my first love. I went from being the “quiet nerd” to the “trumpet player” between the ages of 10 and 13. I was hooked on the power of taking over a room with sound. The trumpet spoke for me in a way I wished I could with words. I really wanted to become a professional trumpeter. I thought this might have been God’s idea, but I didn’t actually want to find out. I didn’t dare to let Him have a say over what I was so afraid to lose. 

Summer, 1995 – I brought my ambition with me to my new home in Calgary, Canada as I trumpeted my way through football fields in a marching band uniform complete with a shoulder cape and a hat with a plume on top. I trumpeted my way to university in Montreal; 18 and armed with 10-year plans. Alone in a studio apartment, with my own rice cooker and electricity bills for the first time, I had to reckon with the freedom I had to never pick up the Bible my parents left on my shelf. I didn’t wander off too far, mainly for social reasons. I was too shy to venture out of the “Christian bubble.” 

At the start of my second year in university, my friend Carleen and I started a prayer group with fellow music students. Those Monday afternoon meetings became frank conversations with God, in front of each other. There was little room for hiding. It wasn’t long before I had to confess an uneasy realisation: I was unable to pray: “Lord, it’s okay if playing the trumpet is not Your will for me…” When I tried to form that sentence in my head, I would cringe in anxiety. I didn’t know who I was apart from what I did well.  

During summer vacation that year, I finally confirmed with God that it would be okay if He had something to say about my all-or-nothing dreams in music. As I fought through my words of surrender between sobs, God’s love rushed in and immediately filled the space my ambition left behind. That was when this truth dropped from my head to my heart: the God who loves the whole world loves me specifically. His love is for all time and for the here and now. I usually have a harder time embracing the latter.   

'The door is ajar'

God loved me through crossroads and graduate school, all the way to North Africa, where I became a music teacher in a city where less than one per cent of the population followed Jesus. I thought serving God overseas meant that I no longer had to deal with my musician’s perfectionism. Yet in the middle of a season when nothing much was going well, I was back in the same wrestle. I wanted to matter. I thought that meant productivity, and things going well.  One Spring morning, I surprised myself by waking up as early as the birds. I felt I needed to go up to the roof with my guitar. As I prayed in song, I stumbled my way towards clarity: God likes me. His delight in me is not contingent on me at all. I didn’t have to linger by the door of the Father’s house, trying to fix myself in hopes of an invitation in. The door is ajar. I belong inside. 

Through that prayer-song, God sent me out again, with prayer as my primary task. From the Father’s house, I learn to listen and ask as a treasured child of the One who is Love-in-motion within Himself. In God’s presence, I learn to pray Scripture with curiosity and confidence. I find that He always wants me to stay close, but will never keep score on how well I’m managing that. Friends who pray together became family. We prayed through the mundane, the impossible and the fun. Prayer propelled our proclamation. It is our being with Jesus as we take Him at His word that He is right there in our neighbourhood where not many are wanting to know Him yet. Livingroom conversations with the Father spark, sustain and grow vibrant communities. 

During this season of confinement, my mind can rush down rabbit trails like: maybe I should just get a job at the grocery store. I miss having travel itineraries, and schedules that take me beyond my desk that’s just a metre away from my bed. A book I ordered arrived, a couple days into quarantine. It is Ruth Haley-Barton’s “Invitation to Solitude and Silence.” On the first page is a written prayer by Ted Loder. It starts like this: “Gather me to be with you as you are with me.” I’ve been praying this regularly as a reminder that God’s work of sending intersects with His gathering. He loves us, and He likes being with us. From this place of belonging and delight, we can accelerate or pause, and Zoom (or Teams chat) our way into new ways of being a growing family of beloved ones.  

Louisa is currently in Montreal, Canada. She is (remotely) a part of the Prayer Hub in Zaventem, Belgium. During most of her 30s, Louisa called North Africa home. While there, she served an eclectic community of prayer, mainly through songs and meals. Louisa likes to explore on foot, sit under trees and photograph things that make her think.  

Share this Resource

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Reply

You might also like:

Other Resources by

Video Editor – full-time International    Go & Live    As soon as possiblePlay a vital part in creating powerful videos or animations, which help OM teams communicate the gospel with specific people groups around the world!
Full Details
Financial Development Officer – Sportslink International International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleAre you a gifted, passionate and experienced leader and fundraiser who can build local and international financial partners to support our ministry? If you answered yes, we need you to help us raise necessary funds and resources for OM SportsLink International operational and catalytic initiatives. You would have a key role in developing creative strategies to generate sustainable income.
Full Details
Incarnate Manager – Inspiro Arts Alliance International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleDo you love to organize complex events? Can you imagine touching every corner of the globe with beauty by helping equip artists to serve cross-culturally?

Inspiro Arts Alliance cultivates and empowers artists globally to awaken the world to God's beauty. Incarnate is our flag-ship training. Completely redesigned and improved, the next Incarnate will be held in January 2022 over 4 months in multiple locations.

We’ve got the program and connections. We just need a manager. Could that be you?

Full Details
HR Manager for International Relief and Development Partner International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleDo you believe in transforming lives practically and through the Gospel, but your skills are more in management and caring for people? We need someone to help our leadership ensure the health and well-being of their teams, who work in some of the hardest countries in the world, through community development and relief, serving hurting Muslim people. They need someone who has their back! If this is what you are passionate about, join us and put your gifts to use for the Kingdom of God.
Full Details
Director of Mobilisation Initiatives International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleOverall goal As a part of the Global Brand & Marketing (GBM) leadership team, the Director of Mobilisation Initiatives will lead the innovation, creation, deployment and evaluation (full lifecycle) of initiatives and products which inspire global Jesus followers toward deeper engagement with the OM mission and connect Jesus Followers to their local OM office for further mobilisation services.
Full Details
Director of Media & Communications – Inspiro Arts Alliance International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleDo you love to communicate creatively? Experience leading a team?

Inspiro Arts Alliance is looking for a leader for our Media & Communications Team to develop and deploy a variety of media to help mobilize artists globally to love like Jesus.

As director of media & communications you will be key to inspiring and equipping this global movement of artists!

Full Details
Instructional Designer International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleUse your mix of training talent, creative skills, IT savvy and project awareness to design interactive and engaging content to equip our people for mission, online, wherever they are in the world. Instructional Designers with eLearning experience are encouraged to apply. However, training is available for candidates with solid in-person teaching skills.
Full Details
Event Manager (Run 4 the World – R4TW) International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleWe’re looking for an Events Manager to organize one (or a few) Run for the World (R4TW) events within the serving country/area. If you have skills in event planning, networking and organization, this could be your dream job. Run for the World (R4TW) is an open-source global sports event - running and making a positive impact on the world around you. It is a God-given opportunity to use sport to transform the lives of young people locally and globally.
Full Details
Short-term Project Mobiliser – Inspiro Arts Alliance International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleHelp mobilise artists into specialized, artistic short-term mission projects. Inspire, equip and connect artists globally into the right projects, internships and other short-term opportunities.

Inspiro Arts Alliance is cultivating and empowering artists globally to love through beauty in worship and witness.

You can play a key part in building this global movement of artists on mission.

Full Details
Video Editor – part-time International    Go & Live    As soon as possiblePlay a vital part in creating powerful videos or animations, which help OM teams communicate the gospel with specific people groups around the world!
Full Details
IT support person (OM EAST – Literature and Media, Austria) International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleOM EAST is looking for an on-site IT support person to ensure the smooth running of their literature and media ministry’s infrastructure. As you support a creative team of graphic designers, app developers and eBook programmers, you are making it possible to produce Christian media in the heart-languages of people groups around the world.
Full Details
Web developer (OM EAST – Literature and Media, Austria) International    Go & Live    As soon as possibleOM EAST is looking for a skilled web developer to manage and develop their eBook websites to share downloadable Christian media among people groups in hard-to-reach places. Use your skills to share the hope of Christ by making resources available in areas where there is little or no Christian literature in the local language!
Full Details