“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:15-19 (NKJV)
Like many, I grew up singing “Jesus Loves Me.” I used to sing, “Jesus loves you, this I know,” to Hannah every night as part of her bedtime routine. I have always known that Jesus loved me, but until recently, I did not really KNOW. Let me explain.
Those of us who know Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior have, at least, an intellectual understanding we are loved, that God came to earth robed in flesh, lived a sinless life, paid the ultimate price to redeem us back to Himself–all because of His great love for us. In order to be born again into His Kingdom, we must accept that in faith, repent, turn from our sin, receive His Spirit, and begin to live for Him.
For decades I have known this, but had no real revelation of it. I lived my life, practically speaking, like Jesus Christ died for others and I somehow slid in the back door by grabbing someone else’s “coat tails;” my sins far worse than anyone else’s. Pretty arrogant that.
In the past, I have prayed and even begged God for a revelation of His love, without any success. About a month and a half ago, this all changed. For a few brief seconds, God allowed me to see into the eternal, giving me a glimpse of His great love. It was enough to change me forever.
Like many others, I have lived my life “risk averse.” I learned early on to distrust people, initially the result of bullying and humiliation at the hands of my peers (and, sadly, a couple of teachers). Mixed into that a few failed relationships, betrayal by some close friends, and internalizing the stoicism from my Scandinavian and Germanic up-bringing, keeping part my heart locked up, has been a way of life for me. Much safer that way–less risk, less potential pain.
In addition, we live in a “risk averse” culture which quietly seeps into our thinking and teaches that if we place our trust in those with authority, they will, through government intervention (or a myriad of other ways), “help us” achieve a risk-free life of peace, safety, and security. Of course, this won’t ever work, no matter what they legislate or how many police they provide. Only placing our trust in Jesus Christ can ever give us that kind of peace and security.
Having been given a revelation of God’s love, I find I am beginning to love others more freely and extravagantly; less afraid of being hurt, more willing to take the risk and trust.
The cartoon below came to my attention from my daughter and son-in-law. The quote of C.S. Lewis’ is one of my favorites. Like many of us, Hannah and Matt went through deep heartache. Having made the decision to risk their hearts again, God has given them great joy. Four weeks ago today, God knit their lives together in marriage.
So while dealing with my “trust issues” is clearly a work in progress, to borrow a phrase from Star Trek, this new-found revelation of God’s love is helping me to “boldly go where no man has gone before.”
And that gives me hope and a future.