Friday, July 25, 2008

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong...

Jesus loves me. It is such a simple truth. Easy to understand. That is why we teach it to children after all. We put it into their songs and they happily sing it to themselves over and over. They understand God's love for them... and they enjoy it.

So when did the rest of us stop understanding? At what point did the simple truth become complicated? Is it just me or has the majority of the grown-up world, including the church, moved past the fact of God's love? Though not voiced aloud, many lives seem to communicate the view that we mastered that infantile concept years ago and have now moved on to more adult concerns of the faith. At what point did we shelve the reality of God's love? Was there a magical age? Was it when we became an adult? Or is there more to it than that?

Perhaps it was when our hearts first encountered trauma. Childlike innocence came face to face with nonsensical pain and circumstances no longer allowed for the luxury of God's love. So we set the fantasy aside to pull up our bootstraps and charge forward through the broken dream. Survival becomes our only concern. No matter that our hearts are shattered, our lives scattered in pieces for one reason or another. We press on, finding a routine to dull the ache, busyness to drowned out the emptiness, and addictions to numb the pain. We learn to cope. But we don't live. And we certainly don't love.

We say we do. We find cheaper, counterfeit versions of love to try to fool ourselves into believing we have obtained the long lost luxury. But deep down, we all know that something is not right. Because the ache and the emptiness and the pain are still there, throbbing beneath the surface.

We inside the church are often just as trapped as those outside when it comes to our perspective of God and His love. The world displays their desperation and anger and agony. We learn to play games and cover ours up while pretending that we have found the solution our soul wanted. We claim that we understand the concept of God's love once again. But we don't. Not many of us. And certainly none of us to the extent that we could. Though we do not voice it for fear of contradicting such an accepted, childlike fact, we do not believe that God is loving. Our minds may, but our hearts often scream to the contrary. Our circumstances scream to the contrary. Our pain screams to the contrary. There is no room for pain and love to mix within our war-torn hearts. We feel pain, so we assume that love is absent. Some of us give up trying altogether. Others of us begin to work and strive and sacrifice to try to somehow earn this favor from God. But either way, we are not being loved. Or so we feel. But is this true?

Jesus loves me... Children believe it in their innocence. Why shouldn't they? When the world steals that innocence, doubt steals their ability to feel loved. But they remain loved all the same. We remained loved. We cannot see it, we cannot feel it. But the reality is there all the same. We are loved. We just won't let our hearts receive it. I haven't let my heart receive it. But it has been there all the same.

This I know... the key is knowing that God loves us. Whether we know it or not, the fact still remains true. But it cannot provide healing and restoration to our wounded hearts until we know this fact. This isn't a matter of knowing in the mind, but knowing in the heart. Of letting God reach down into the most wounded places of our souls and bringing the reality of His love. If we really know this... not just know it... but really know it in the core of our being, then it will change the way we live, the way we see and the way we feel.

Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong... The love of God is not an adult matter. It is for children. Adults make there own way in the world. Children wait to be provided for. We cannot make our own way into the love of God. He must be allowed to provide one for us. Jesus once said to enter the kingdom of heaven one must become like a little child. We have to open up our hearts to receive, just like children. Children accept gifts. They don't try to earn them. What's more is they love them! When was the last time you experienced the joy of receiving a gift from your heavenly Father, just because He loves you? He does. And He is waiting to give us what we have strived to find for so long. He just wants us to stop striving and open our hands to receive it.

I have been learning this lesson. It has been a painful, awkward journey, but a beautiful and exhilarating process nonetheless. God has taken the last few months to prepare my heart to receive this simple truth: He loves me. Its simple, but its profound. Its elementary, but its foundational. It can be understood by children and yet missed by a world of adults. I don't want to miss it any more. I don't want you to miss it. I know God doesn't want any of us to miss it. He loves us! Can you see it? Yes! Jesus loves me! Can you feel it? Yes! Jesus loves me! Does it make you want to dance and shout and sit and be quiet for a really long time? My heart has never been so at rest. I feel like I have stopped striving for the first time in a very long time... maybe ever. I'm so content. I'm so valued. I'm so loved. I'm also still in pain. The world and its messiness are still there. That hasn't changed. But somehow, the tangible love of God in my life makes all the difference. Love and pain have found a way to coexist within my soul. Yes! He loves me! They may find a way to coexist inside of yours.

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