We are happy to welcome ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country and overseas to write in June of 2020 for The Park Forum. Each of them is pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.

Today’s student writer is Carolyn Soto Jackson, a student at Truett Seminary.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 62:3-5
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
    a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
    and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you.

Reflection: Lovingly Named
By Carolyn Soto Jackson

Falling in love is often described as a feeling of euphoria with an entertaining sense of exhilaration and confusion all at the same time. We are swooped up into another individual’s life and we want nothing more than to spend every waking moment together. Loneliness and emptiness give way to affection and adoration. Passionate glances and charming pet names like “baby” and “sweetheart” make us blush. 

Yet, the Lord’s delight in us is so much more triumphant than our human pleasures. Christ’s love is immeasurable and unfathomable. Christ takes great pleasure in his Beloved and he calls us by a new name. Our joy cannot be contained when we relish God’s love for us. Our jubilant responses include knees buckling in worship, tear-filled eyes, singing praises of his name, and hearts filled with rapturous, unconditional love. 

This is a love many do not ever encounter. 

Unlike human love which diminishes when we fall into sin, our God declares us his Beloved and patiently woos us back. 

Oh, what great love he lavishes upon us. 

Since the beginning of time, God stated he would not be still or rest until glory, righteousness, and salvation were established in Israel. Our Lord promised to continue working on Israel’s restoration despite their sinful ways. He did not give up on them nor will he give up on us now.

Their land, which was once described as forsaken and deserted, God christened as “My Delight is in Her” and “Your Land Married”. These new alluring names, Beulah and Hephzibah were bestowed upon Zion as a bridegroom would speak to his bride on their wedding night. Unlike the romantic love we have here on earth, God’s raw and tender agape love creates a longing within us to hear those names fall from His lips. No pet name will ever compare to the desirous names given to us by God. 

Our loyal, generous God pulls back the veil of his bride and rejoices tenderly as a newly wedded husband would do. 

Our God is faithful, even when we are not. He restores even when we rebel. Day after day, he delights in you and he delights in me. 

God brought us all out of a desolate place, rescuing us from death and destruction. So make yourself ready, wear your finest and brightest linens, for the time of the wedding is near.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show your goodness, O Lord, to those who are good and to those who are true of heart. — Psalm 125.4

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 62 (Listen – 2:09)
Matthew 10 (Listen – 5:10)

Read more about His Loving Presence
Jesus chooses messy companionship over perfect solitude. He is the God who risks pain and death to gain our fickle friendship and vacillating love.

Read more about Realizing the Power of Love
The selflessness of God’s love in us, and the actions that should flourish from it have the power, with the Holy Spirit, to change our world.