“I’ve given up trying to figure it out why he loves me like that. I just know that he does and I accept it now.” Me, November 6th, 2009
“Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.” Christian Children’s Hymn
Once, while reading the Gospel of John, I was struck by a phrase that was repeated several times: “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. This statement seemed strange to me because I was always told that God is not a “respecter” of person or station – he loves us all equally. So how could this guy be referred to as the one Jesus loved, as if he had a special place, a superior relationship and privileges above the other disciples? At least, that’s what it implied to me. It didn’t seem right that this disciple had more love than the others and, by extension, potentially more than me. So, I asked God why – how could this be? As a friend of mine always says, “Ask God a question and you’ll get an answer.” Sure enough, the clue came at the end of the book of John:
“This is that disciple who saw these events and recorded them here. And we all know that his account of these things is accurate.” (John 21:24)
The disciple whom Jesus loved and the writer of the book are one and the same. This is his personal testimony of his relationship with Jesus. He couldn’t speak for the other disciples but he knew that Jesus loved HIM! He claimed that love as his own, basked in it, reveled in it. Yes, Jesus loves me!
At the time of that revelation, I was just beginning to understand how much he loved me. I was going through yet another crisis – I won’t go into details (some things are too personal to share in a public forum) but I can tell you the experience left me a zombie. I was devastated, beyond comfort. I was numb. My very worst fear had been realized. I was in the valley, y’all – deep, way deep in the pit of despair. The pain was so great that I had suicidal thoughts but I wouldn’t give in. I couldn’t – my children needed me and self preservation had me clinging to the only hope I had. It was like Jesus threw me a life preserver and said “Hold on” – which I did, for all I was worth. I was unable to do much more than that but I knew, I hoped (I was too numb to pray) that if I just held on I could ride it out. I didn’t dare dream about what would be on the other side of the storm. I was just trying to make it there where things would just be better.
A voice came to me during my zombie state one day and said, “Do you know I love you?” And I, thinking I was talking to myself, replied “Yeah, yeah – I know. You love everybody. You love the whoooole world. For God so loved the world – blah, blah, blah.” And the voice said again, “I love you. I died for you.” The voice ceased after that and I really didn’t think any more of it. Daily life continued, more of just barely hanging on, more of merely existing. Until Sunday as I was on my way to church (that was part of hanging on, y’all!) I almost had a car accident. And then another one – two near misses in one morning! I went on to church and went through the motions, acting like everything was normal. My (then) husband stayed at church for the afternoon service while I took the kids to visit his mother. Before I knew it, time had flown and I was supposed to be back at church to pick up my husband. In a hurry now, I flew down the expressway trying to make up time.
It was drizzling. My tires were bad. I lost control of the car and hit the metal barrier. Hit my head –bleeding. Kids were crying. We’re all shook up and the front of my car is ruined. I don’t even have time to be dazed because there’s smoke coming out of my engine! In a panic, I grab the kids and get us all out of the car. Good Samaritans have pulled over to offer assistance (God bless you all!), a clean towel for my bleeding head and a cell phone to call my family and let them know what’s happened. The cars are roaring by – so much noise! I looked over at the mangled car and back to us huddled together on the shoulder of the expressway. Back over to the mangled mess, back over to me and my children – until I realized just how badly this could have ended. But there we were, virtually undamaged (except for my head) and whole. As the shock set in, the Voice returned to me, speaking quietly but heard above the roar: “I love you. I died for you.” I grabbed my mouth, gasping, crying as I tried to grasp the enormity of what God had just shown me. He loves me. Me. And he spoke to me! People populate the earth like grains of sand – I am a mere drop in a bucket but he loves me. Individually. Great BIG God – itty bitty me. WOW. That blew my mind and I was humbled beyond belief.
From that point on, I was able to claim his love just like that beloved disciple for I know he loves me. When I told my children that story, they said “Mama, he don’t just love you! He loves us, too!” I think they thought I was being kind of greedy to keep it all, claim it all for myself – something close to how I felt when I read about “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. But then they figured it out just like I did … and claimed it, too.