“Jesus finds us waiting at The Well
Because he knows how many years
We have been trying to fix ourselves
Searching for love in the most dangerous of places.”
– Amena Brown
Do you know you are loved? Do you know you are deeply, passionately, sacredly loved? You are loved by the God who is so powerful that even angels bow down to him. You are loved by the God who is so magnificent that even demons do not want to hear his name. You are loved by the God that conquers death, takes away all burdens, and breaks the chains of sin forever. God loves you! Do you know you know that? You are beautiful, personally, actively, unconditionally loved.
I have asked people this question time and time again, almost always with the same result. They smile and give me a cognitive-believing “I know”. And yet if I ask again pressing the truth just a little deeper, 9 times out of 10, I see tears instead of hear a reply. This shouldn’t come as a shock to me though because it was the exact same response I had.
Our office was in the middle of medical buildings with nothing else around but a biking trail, a YMCA, and a Marie Callender’s restaurant. Needless to say, this lead many in my building to have meetings over coffee and a piece of pie. It was nothing flashy, but it got us away from the distraction of e-mails, phone calls, and co-workers.
The quiet booths became cozy, welcoming friends.
Being that it was going to be my last meeting with my boss, Mark, before he and his wife moved to Asia, we meandered around the business loop toward pie and coffee one last nostalgic time. As we entered our alternative boardroom, we were graciously seated and our order taken. Within a few minutes I was sipping my fresh, hot coffee and enjoying some tart, sweet key lime pie.
I had been anticipating this meeting for months. Mark was always full of words that inspired and challenged me not only in my work, but in my life as well. Mark was not just a boss, but a mentor as well.
I leaned back on the maroon vinyl booth, hands cupped around my mug, making myself ready to relish in sage advice; words that would not just hit my ears but also stir my soul. I wondered what Mark was going to say to encourage me as I kept discipling short-term missionary workers. I sat ready to savor his vision for seeing people have the chance to hear about Jesus. I anticipated one last charge regarding marriage and parenting. I hoped for one last belly laugh as we reminisced about our many years working together.
I did not know what the exact words from Mark would be, but I knew they would be ones to cherish. They always were.
As I eagerly awaited Mark’s swan song, he took a sip of coffee, looked intently at me, and with a divine breath said, as if in slow motion, “Cheryl.” I looked up expectantly. “Jesus loves you.”
I dropped my gaze and shifted my weight with a bit of disappointment. “Yeah, I know” I mumbled, hoping that there would be more to this fa
rewell address. He breathed again and with words like arrows said, “No, Cheryl.” I looked up again into Mark’s eyes full of conviction, “JESUS LOVES YOU!” I hung my head again, but this time, it wasn’t in disappointment. It was something else. My most vulnerable doubt had just been exposed.
Tears silently rolled down my cheeks. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t respond. I couldn’t look up. I just cried. I ugly cried while the words rang like sirens in my head. As my coffee sat steaming and my fork rested on the plate, I wept.
Here I was, having grown up a Christian, graduated from Seminary, and leading a short-term mission’s program. I should not be having such a reaction. And yet, and I found myself, face to face with the deep soul confronting reality of the words, “Jesus loves you”, and I could not contain myself.
It was not that I had never heard these words before. I had. And I had believed them. But something was different this time. It was as if a dam had broken and finally, with force, the words came rushing forth. Whispers of “Jesus loves you” came pouring into soul places I didn’t even know had grown dry. The water-soaked weary places.
Mark spoke a deep truth that I had grown numb to. I heard these words so often in church and in seminary that they became nothing more than a cliché.
As a child I melodically bellowed out the words “Jesus loves me this I know” and personally owned the words of John 3:16. At a young age, “Jesus loves me” was my mantra. It was the banner I freely ran under. Yet over the years, the repetition of this abstract statement became monotonous and ineffective while my tangible struggles became dynamic and real. This combo created poisonous tendrils mutating and choking out the truth of Christ’s love in my life.
I started to believed that “Jesus loves me” was only a partial truth if a truth at all. The full equation needed some type of caveat, clause, or compound sentence structure. The formula really went something like “Jesus loves you, but…” or “Jesus loves you when…” or “If Jesus loves you, then…”. At any given time I, or someone else, would add to the the prescription to make it more palatable. The caveats made the statement more tangible, more human. Mark, however, did not follow this blueprint. He looked at me and said “Jesus Loves You.” Period. End of thought. End of statement. Silence followed the three words. He said nothing else because it needed nothing else.
“Jesus loves you.” Mark spoke these words to me, not as a cliché but as a balm. They were a defibrillator to my soul. It was good. It was painful. It was critical. I sat there with words that I had heard hundreds of times before, but something in the way they were spoken made me actually start believing in them again. It was the first time in years.
“Jesus love you.” It was these three words that propelled me forward on what I have called my “barefooted stroll”. I went on a “walkabout” so to speak searching my story for examples of what the Bible, and Mark, were claiming. I wanted to know God’s love in the depths of my soul. I wanted to know that love that fights the tendrils of sickness, anger, and hopelessness that pry their way into hurting hearts and instead brings transformation, freedom, and light. I wanted to know God’s love because something powerful happened when the words “Jesus loves you” were spoken definitively into the depths of my being.
And trust me, my barefooted stroll hasn’t been as glamourous as it may sound. I thought learning about Jesus’ love would be like a frolic through perfectly manicured grass with my perfectly manicured toes. And sometimes it felt that sweet. But many times it felt more like trudging over rocky terrain, floundering through a mud run course, or reeling across hot asphalt. I will write more about that over many other blog posts, but here is the reality, through the soothing grass and the burning streets, “Jesus loves you” still held true.
Jesus loves you. It is the most important message the world has ever been given.
If we could all live loved by God, the impact would be extraordinary. I began this journey because I needed to see that Jesus loves me. I kept going in the journey because I desire for you to see that Jesus loves you. It is not “Jesus loves you if…” or “Jesus loves you when…”. The sacred truth is Jesus loves you. Sentence complete. Jesus loves you.
All photos are my own