To be perfectly honest I am a fraud. Really. I am.
Because I don’t really believe God loves me. Not really.
I can tell you He loves you. I believe that. But as for me, well, that’s another matter entirely. My eyes can read the words, my ears can hear the words, my mind can even take them in. But inside, within, deep in my heart I just can’t believe it. Accept it.
Not me. Not really.
I knew a man once whose eyes shined like dawn each time he spoke of Jesus. Not just his eyes, but all of him. He glowed. When we talked of Jesus he was like a little boy bouncing before a Christmas morning tree. He was like a teen finding first love. He was like a father holding his first-born. He was all this, all exuberant, all love, all pride all in one, all at once.
This man had a turbulent past; a torrid history. But there was no divine intervention, no gracious healing, no life-altering miracle as there was for me. His afflictions still torment him, his troubles burden. He battles daily to be clean, free, whole.
And yet he is so apparently, obviously, deeply, all-consuming in love with Jesus it seeps from him like light.
I envy a faith like that.
During a particularly difficult time recently I met with a pastor. I shared my story, shared about God’s saving grace in my life, shared my current troubles. Sadness. I told the pastor I believe in God. I believe He alone saved me from my addiction, afflictions. I believe in Jesus and the cross and the resurrection. So how- why- can I not find the faith, the exuberance I see in others?
The pastor, sitting across facing me, drew a picture on the pad in front of him then turned the pad towards me. There in black ink on white paper were two cliffs facing each other, a deep chasm between them. On one cliff stood me, God on the other. Upside down the pastor drew a line over the chasm connecting the cliffs and on this line he wrote “Jesus”.
“Brenda” the pastor said, “until you accept Jesus, accept Him personally, for you, for yourself; until you believe Jesus died for you, you won’t, can’t have peace.” He went on. “Understand this: If you were the only one, the only person, the only sinner Jesus still would have went to the cross. He would have- and did- die for you and you alone. That’s how much He loves you.”
I heard his words, took them in. Yet, they bounced off some wall inside; ricocheted around.
Sitting in early autumn sun with a friend the other day she tells me, “Brenda, He is love!”
And I pause, grasp those words, tuck them inside.
I know another who is just like the first: so completely and utterly in love with Jesus he beams wide-eyed at the mere mention of His name. He admits to a good life, loving parents, a strong family, many friends, a job he enjoys. He tells of nothing out of the ordinary and almost embarrassingly claims his life to be fairly normal, average. Boring. I ask him why then, how is he so exuberant for Jesus.
“He died for me!” he exclaims. “He loved me so much that he died for me.”
“That’s it?” I ask.
He smiles so very big and replies, “Brenda, that’s everything!”
And I shrink inside.
How can I be so unbelieving, so ungrateful, so needy. How much would be enough. How much do I require. How much more does God have to do for me to have a faith like that?