“Well, God’s got their attention now.”– A few of us were standing in the hallway of the community center, where our church met when I first heard this statement. It came out of a new believer’s mouth about an adverse event in someone’s life. I believe the unstated meaning speaks of the vulnerability some circumstances can reveal in us. More often than not, we are walking through life, unaware of when the storm is coming. So, when it arrives, it can be somewhat unexpected, like a jolt. The weight of it demands a level of humility unfamiliar to us. Stripped of all our defenses in a moment, and on our knees in the next, God has our attention. Our senses are heightened, and our minds fixated on the only One who can bring a remedy, pardon, healing, or solutions to the situation. We will be desperate. We will feel weak. God’s got our attention.
“Yes, Valerie, you have decided to follow Jesus” This I heard from God in my head, very clearly. He spoke this to me one dark, cold night in Kodema, Ukraine. Clark and I, with our mission team, were in a van with a driver who didn’t speak English. The dim light in the truck was no match for the darkness outside, no visible moon, a dark horizon because of limited electricity, and an unknown destination.
Our van bumped along the rough, dirt road.
Soon, our roaming thoughts were silenced. The van stopped. The door opened, and one young, teenage girl entered. We didn’t know why she was there, and her presence provided no answer…at least not yet. By this time, we are cold, and our apprehension is increasing. We made some attempts to communicate but were left wondering about her presence with us.
As we sat rumbling along, wondering what would happen next, our anxiety thickened. Suddenly, surprising us all, our new passenger broke out in song, in English! Her choice was the hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”
The laughter of relief and smiles and nods of joy filled the van. In a second, we’d become one. An atmosphere of worship took over our angst, and we joined her singing, the entire hymn. I remembered every word to what I believe was five verses. God’s miracle of comfort, indeed.
While we were singing, the Holy Spirit spoke to me so clearly this phrase. It was unforgettable and undeniable. Since that time, in the hard places of ministry, this phrase has reminded me of my commitment to Jesus and given me the spiritual tenacity to keep going.
“Jesus Knows Me This I Love”
It was a number of years ago in the little town of Murphy, N.C that this phrase was discovered. I was in a home decor shop and found this sign leaning against another object on a table. It stopped me in my tracks, and delight filled my soul. The meaning was not lost on me. The twist in words gave appreciation for them.
Immediately, my thoughts reflected on the familiar “Jesus Loves Me This I Know.”
So, what’s the difference? Perhaps taking it from a childhood truth to an adult truth is the difference. The fact that Jesus Loves Me is an awesome thought.
But the fact that HE knows me, and that in response, I love that He knows me, well, that’s powerful! One short, pithy phrase spoke of a close relationship with Jesus, a relationship of no secrets.
He’s seen me at my worst and most vulnerable. He’s pulled me out of the pit. He’s rejoiced at my growth. He’s responded when I needed Him to be big. Every injustice He sees. Every prayer known. He’s had a front row seat to every failure so that He’d be close by when I ran to Him. He’s been present in every moment of cheer. He’s known every joy. He does things all day long that let me know He’s watching ME and sees ME. He hears me thank Him when by His power, I become more like Him. No hope in my heart has ever gone unnoticed. He’s never ignored any request.
He knows me, and I love that!