Valentine's Day is coming; stores are filling with romantic memorabilia of every shape, form and description. People are scurrying here and there, planning what they will give their loved ones. But I find my mind turning to a different channel - I'm wondering how many are giving Jesus even a fraction of the affection they are lavishing on people...people that are as fragile as flowers in terms of eternity, people that can pass away in an instant, as opposed to the One Who created everything and Who is the same today, yesterday and forever. Some may say that my mind turns this way because I don't have any really close friends - no, I have a good collection of very close friends, all of which are more precious than gold to me. But Jesus is more precious to me than any person can ever be - and I'd like to tell you why.
We've all heard the story of how He came to this earth to live and die for us, so "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." But that's not all: Jesus is also the One that created everything, both on this earth and in space. (See John 1:1-3) And the Apostle Paul tells us that it is only through Jesus' continued upholding care that any living thing continues to live, and that the stars continue to shine, and the planets continue in their orbits, etc.. The wonderful things of nature are a reflection of the same Being Who came to this earth to die for you and me - the same Jesus! And, the dealings of God with mankind down through history, as revealed in the Bible and elsewhere, are also a reflection of Jesus, because He is the One Who has been behind it all - it is through Jesus that God has worked with us humans from Adam and Eve all the way to our day. Then, too, there is the beauty of justice, mercy and infinite wisdom shown in God's laws and instructions in Scripture. For years I had heard and read and learned about all the above, but it wasn't until the last year that the Lord helped me to put them all together into a mosaic picture - a picture that showed me as never before what matchless charms there are in Jesus. No one else in all the universe has such a character as His; no one else is so trustworthy as He; no one else is so just and wise in everything; no one else will never get sick or die, or get too busy to listen, etc.; and NO ONE else loves each of us as though there was not another person on earth! Imagine: He never plays favorites...because we are all His favorites! Amazing - but it's true; something that only God can do!
Many people question God's love and justice because of all the terrible things that happen on earth. But sacred history, in Scripture, etc.., shows us that every time something appeared unjust or not fair, in the end it was more just and fair than mere humans could have come up with on their own. Scripture shows us that God created everyone with the freedom to choose - to make good choices or to make bad choices. When people make bad choices, more often then not they reap the results of their own bad choices. Also, before the earth was made, Lucifer, one of the angels, who later became Satan, chose to become envious of Jesus and to accuse Him of not ruling in the best way. God tried to reason with Lucifer, but he clung to his delusions, and, since God respected his choice, Lucifer had to be cast out of heaven rather than be forced to submit. Once Lucifer, now Satan, was cast down to this earth, he set about to deceive Adam and Eve to follow him in rebellion, which they did, thus putting the entire human race under Satan's rulership. But Jesus pledged Himself to become our ransom, and save as many as should CHOOSE to follow HIM instead of Satan. In order to show humans the pros and cons of Satan's ways versus God's ways, Satan had to be allowed to show his ways in human history in those who chose to follow him. Also, God has always had those who choose His ways, and their experiences show the value of God's ways. Through all of earth's history there has been a great controversy raging, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, and we all have a part to play, in who we choose to serve. I know from personal experience what it is like to go through very dark and trying situations, where one's prayers seem to bounce off of the sealing, but through perseveringly clinging to God and continuing to pray, it all came out right in the end, even though a good bit of it was due to bad choices in the past to begin with!
For so many, God and Jesus and spiritual things in general are in a realm off somewhere else - rarely are they truly real to people, real in the sense of being an almost tangible part of life. This was the way it was for me for some years - there were always people and sayings that reminded me that there were people to whom Jesus was a truly close Friend and an intimate part of every moment of life. I wanted this for myself, and prayed that I might know how. There was one verse in particular that bothered me - I knew there was a key in it, but I couldn't quite seem to grasp it. It is the one that tells us to "pray without ceasing". Finally, eight years ago, when I was 16, I realized that it meant a constant attitude of prayerful, humble reliance on God, not an endless torrent of mental words towards heaven! But the Lord showed me that humility towards God is the key - if we regard Him on a level with ourselves, as if He is there just to be our servant, we cannot appreciate Him as we should, much less obey Him out of love, awe, and reverence. We are to grasp His hand by faith and rise to His level, not try to pull Him down to our level. Only as we look UP to Him, and choose a constant attitude of humble dependence on Him moment by moment, can we begin to love Him as it is our privilege to do.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me." John 15:4 If you've ever tried to pull a muscadine vine branch away from the main vine, you know just what a connection exists there - fiber by fiber, tendril by tendril, vein by vein, the branch and the vine are one flesh. It is no come-and-go, on-and-off connection! This is the kind of connection that it is our privilege to maintain with Jesus, and it is the only way to truly have life that measures with the character and life of God. 1Corinthians 6:19 & 20 says, "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." For a long time I looked upon verses like those above as expressing a necessary duty, like "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15 But since I have come to know Jesus in the mosaic portrayed in the first part of this article, I now see these "duties" as something I want to do: instead of "Oh I need to stay put and not wander away from Jesus to do my own thing," now it's "I don't want to have anything to do with wandering off to do my own thing - I long to stay in His arms all the time! I belong to Him in love, not in servitude." Why this change? Because I have come to see Jesus for what He really is - the One altogether lovely, the One most worthy of our affection, trust, and obedience. Also, the verse that says, "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath," used to be one of the do-this-because-it's-right items, but now it is something I want to do...to always listen out for His voice speaking to me through impressions, through His Word, or through other people - even if it is not to my liking.
I have come to realize just how very true are the words of some of our hymns, like the one called, "Safe In The Arms of Jesus". It says, "Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast; here by His love ore shaded, sweetly my soul doth rest." This is a very real representation of what it is our privilege to do each and every moment of every day - by faith to dwell in the secret place of the Almighty, in His very embrace! Many times I find myself praying, "Give me grace to abide in Your embrace and ever look into Your face by faith in the Most Holy Place!" As it tells us in the Book of Hebrews, Jesus is even now ministering for us as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary in the investigative judgment. Only as we abide in Him and thereby become like Him will we be accounted righteous at last.
No matter how busy or perplexed we may be, it is our privilege to maintain a moment-by-moment dependence on Jesus, where we ever listen out for His voice, ever abide in His embrace, and thus maintain a little bit of heaven and its peace in the throne room of our hearts. "There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God. Oh Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God; hold us who wait before thee, near to the heart of God." "Be still and know that I am God," is another way to describe it from Scripture. Also, the following promise is very powerful and revealing: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5&6
Especially at this time of year, when so many are focused on other people, I hope and pray that this article will help people to look up - to remember how Jesus longs for our whole-hearted affection and devotion in response to all the love He showers on us constantly, keeping us alive and giving us the choice of taking Him up on such an intimate, one-on-one relationship with Him. Will we respond? Will we make the effort required to stay in His arms, or will we let self have it's way and wander here and there, doing our own thing? As is so often the case, my mind goes to the words of a song, a song of those who do make the effort to abide in Him: "Ten thousand joys! Sweet Son of God, You came to me. And my heart sings, because I know that You are mine, in You I find ten thousand joys - enough to last through all the years, and joy to shine through all my tears. Ten thousand joys!"
Morrissey V. H. Completed on January 29, 2004