Read His Words Before Ours!
I haven’t always loved Jesus as bravely as I do today.
And it’s been suffering that made the difference.
I grew up moving between small country Baptist churches that had been birthed in the early 1900’s. Red carpeted podiums, musty smells, literal wooden pews that creaked and groaned with every move a wiggly child made, stone baptisteries, stained glass windows, and bell towers that actually rang each week.
Lots of hymns.
Three songs every Sunday.
1st verse, 2nd verse, and 4th verse (we always skipped the 3rd?!).
Of all the sermons I sat under from birth through my unsettled teen years, it was the words of those aged hymns that gave me the basis for my theology probably more than anything. I loved their words and haunting melodies, but sometimes they prompted more questions than serenity in my little soul.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.
To my young mind, I thought it quite arrogant to “prove Jesus o’er and o’er”. What could we possibly prove? He was God, end of story. But, like a good, little Baptist, I never voiced my many questions because I knew I was just “supposed to believe”.
Still, those words unsettled me.
And then I grew up.
I walked down the aisle of a different church and gave my heart away to my Hero on our wedding day, full of ecstasy and the thrill of new love. A few years later, I stared the very real possibility of divorce in the face, walked through hurt and anger and my past, to stand on the other side discovering that I loved my man so much more than I had before. But I didn’t love him more because he was amazing and perfect, rather I loved more because I realized the God, who I had imagined to abandon me, loved me better than I knew.
When I turned my back on the God of my childhood, seeing Him only as a scam, and falling headlong into depression with dark thoughts of suicide, hating church and all Christians and all pastors, Jesus showed me love by showing me Himself. I walked through all of it, allowing Christ to rebuild my foundation based on His Truth instead of Enemy Lies.
I loved Him better and was freed to love others better too.
When our son died and all our prayers seemed in vain and the depth of loss seemed unfathomable.
When I gave up on being brave.
When the demands of being a mother and wife were too much.
When joy was gone.
When friendships faded.
When marriage was too hard.
Jesus still showed me Himself.
And you know what I discovered?
Jesus was better.
Better than all my stuff, everything I counted as valuable, even my marriage and relationships. Yes, even my son. It’s not that those things didn’t matter, or weren’t important, but the truth was that Jesus colors everything with depth and richness and fullness that surpasses anything we’ve known before.
Digging in to His character as we suffer produces the ability to trust Him.
He builds in us His own character and fills us with His hope.
A hope that will not disappoint.
Paul sings his own hymn in Philippians, locked away in prison for loving Jesus.
I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
To know Him.
To Trust Him.
To reach into the depths of His character.
To find that He alone is more than enough.
I consider (all things) rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.
When the darkness seems to drown us.
When all seems lost.
When we can’t manage to be enough.
When we find ourselves at the end of our rope.
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!