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
You see, I never used to pray for myself. I thought I was being selfish by praying for myself, so I would always pray for everyone else but never ask God for anything for me.
I was so surprised because my young child taught me much about faith – my faith – so I had to be faithful with my God.
I cannot explain to this day what happened next. Suddenly my car went out of control for no reason. I’m on the New Jersey turnpike and there’s a truck next to me, a truck behind me, a truck in front of me. I said, “Oh my God, I’m going to die.”
I remember her giving me a little booklet and there was a lot of singing. Then she gave me this picture of this beautiful man with a little glow behind him, and she says, “That’s Jesus.”
The people that were doing the auditions with the African Children’s Choir came to my church and they were looking for children that could sing. Because I was active in Sunday school, I was chosen to be in the very first African Children’s Choir in 1984.
I was 12 in a small Baptist church when the pastor made it very clear that a decision needed to be made to accept Jesus and to follow Him. It was a very sincere commitment to surrender my life to Jesus when I was 12.