“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 are fixated on the only One who can bring a remedy, pardon, healing, or solution 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 Kodama, Ukraine. With our team, Clark and I 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. We attempted to communicate but were left wondering about her company with us. By this time, we are cold, and our apprehension is increasing.
Our anxiety thickened as we sat rumbling along, wondering what would happen next. 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 in singing the entire hymn. I remembered every word of what I believe was five verses. God’s miracle of comfort, indeed.
While we were singing, the Holy Spirit spoke this 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”
Several years ago, this phrase was discovered in the little town of Murphy, N.C. In a home decor shop, I 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 me appreciation for them.
Immediately, my thoughts reflected on the familiar “Jesus Loves Me This I Know.”
The fact that Jesus Loves Me is an awesome thought. So, what’s the difference? Perhaps the difference is taking it from childhood to adult truth.
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 responded when I needed Him to be significant. Every injustice He sees. Every prayer is 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 and seeing me. He hears me thank Him when I become more like Him by His power. No hope in my heart has ever gone unnoticed. He’s never ignored any request.
He knows me, and I love that!
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