Jesus has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a devout Christian home where I perhaps took faith in Jesus for granted. When my faith was tested in college, I realized I needed to make a personal commitment. I knelt one day in my dorm room and asked Jesus into my heart.
I grew to understand what it meant to live a Spirit-filled life, with the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ resurrected presence, living in me, molding and making me into more of what He wanted me to be. He was making me more like Him, but also more like my real and authentic self as He made me.
Through every stage in life since then, in marriage, in raising children, in preparation for and living out a calling to pastoral ministry, in the death of loved ones and a battle against breast cancer, in multiple mission trips and service opportunities in the US and as far away as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now in retirement, I have felt His presence and have been touched by his mercy and grace.
Though I don’t understand many things that happen in life, to myself or others, and there have certainly been dry and difficult times, I have always trusted His goodness and faithfulness. He seems to know my every need and provides in abundance. And He has shown me again and again that the secret to a full life is indeed giving it away, loving and serving especially those who are lost, outcast, needy and even difficult!
Why do I love Jesus? It is Jesus alone who helps me understand what God is like, what God’s love is like. Paul says in Ephesians 3:18 that God’s love revealed through Jesus is wide, long, deep, and high.
I know it’s wide because there were times I didn’t know if I could live with myself because of things I had said or done. His love was wide enough to forgive me.
I know it’s long because there were times when I’ve wondered if I could persevere faithfully and trust his promises until the end. His love was long enough to carry me through until what He began in me would be completed.
I know it’s deep because there were times I was unable to bear, times of troubles and sorrows, of illness and death and other losses, filled with despair and feeling forsaken and His love was deep enough to be in the depths with me and give me comfort and strength.
And I know His love is high because there were times of sheer joy when I could hardly take in all the goodness and blessing and beauty in life, surrounded by loving relationships that nourish and encourage me, achieving goals I never thought I could, taking many amazing trips around the world and now living on a river and savoring its beauties each day. His love has been high enough to show me His glory.
I know of this love because of the cross. If you draw lines from wide to long, and deep to high, they form a cross. On the cross I behold a love that went infinitely wide to forgive, infinitely long to finish the work, infinitely deep to be forsaken, and infinitely high into glory.
Only Jesus poured out a love like that! Only Jesus could make a relationship with God so real and intimate. And because He rose after death on the cross, I am assured that He is always with me in this life, and that this life is not all there is, but that I will see Him face to face someday in the life to come.
I love Jesus because knowing and believing in Him and seeking to live as He wants me to live in the power of His Holy Spirit is the foundation out of which everything else in my life flows. Glory to God!
More Faith Stories
I remember being in church and going up to the altar and crying. I was so tired of the life I was living. I needed help. I felt a sense of peace at that time and knew that if this Jesus thing can work for some of these other guys, then it can definitely work for me.
I said to myself, “Why should anyone envy me and want to be in my shoes?”
God has led me to amazing places in my life, so let me explain how God led me from South Carolina to Kenya.
We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on.
I am a chef by profession. I’m happy because I do what I love. Now I work at Villadise Tours and Safaris, where I meet so many different people coming from far. Being helpful is just a blessing to other people.
Then God started tugging on my heart. There was a church sermon series that was about taking your God-given dream off the shelf. I was like, “I don’t know what my dream is. God, if you have a dream for me you’re going to have to tell me what it is.”