The following is a copy of my testimony (lightly edited) as given to my friend on a social network associated with our favorite charity. Her story had moved me deeply, and I felt compelled to offer her the only gift I had - the Eternal love of God. I can not express how grateful I am that this has already moved someone. If someone else stumbles in here in need, hopefully, they too will recognize the immeasurable, incomparable love of Jesus, and trust Him:
I wanted to share with you my story.
As a kid, I often heard about God and Heaven and Hell. I trembled. My grandmother would often repeat "Jesus Loves You", but I didn't know who Jesus is.
As a senior in high school, I heard the jocks talking about a jock friend of mine, Mark, being a "Jesus freak". That sounded strange, so I went to Mark after school to ask him what was up with that? He chuckled and said "they called me that?"
He then told me what he had been sharing with them: That Jesus was sent from God to live out His life as a man, and then die on the cross for the sins of the world. In John 3:16 Jesus Himself is quoted saying "For God so loved the world that He gave His one unique son that whoever believes in Him (you may substitute "trust" for believe) will not perish but will have everlasting life". That day I trusted Jesus for my salvation. Over time I came to understand that He died for all of my sins, past present and future, And as such, I would never have to doubt that all of my sin was forgiven. None-the-less doubt I did. I was beginning to believe, to trust that Jesus truly loved me. But that was just the beginning. It takes time to really trust that He intends to order our lives to the greatest possible impact for time (this life) and eternity (the life to come).
In college, when my high school sweetheart jilted me, I felt the Lord had closed important doors for the life I had planned. I rebelled BIG TIME. I left the Lord, I apostacized. I rejected Him and the Faith. I shook my fists at Him. I probably literally said "you don't exist...". I know I said "I hate you". Well, our Father knew me better than that. He knows a child's tantrum when He sees it. A child says "I hate you" and runs away from home, does the parent stop loving them?
The Lord walked right along side me unseen, through the sin and filth for about 4 years.
The Lord did lead me back. It was slow and low key at first, but He has been at work in my life every moment. For many years I had lingering doubts about His love for me. "Why would He love me? I'm so sinful. I'm such a failure." The pieces didn't come together. I believed He loved me most of the time, but because "the Bible tells me so".
Recently, as in this past year, I have found the pieces I needed to put this to rest as much as possible for my weak, sinful, frame:
We have known that God Is Father Son and Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus has been with the Father forever: John 1 says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the same (Word) was in the beginning with God."
This "Word' is the expression, the revelation of God. God who is in Heaven, reveals Himself through the son (Jesus). I think it's John Chapter 14 Jesus says "if you have seen me you have seen the Father." That is because Jesus the Son is the Father's expression, His revelation of God. What God wants you to know about God, He has revealed through Jesus.
Jesus Said "God is Love". This is a basic statement of WHO God is. God is not a "what", but a "Who". God has always been, forever and ever and ever. However old creation is, God is forever and ever before that.
If the One God was a singularity, God, who Is Love could have only had self-love for eternity before creation. Okay M., here's the thing: Father Son and Holy Spirit have been together forever - ONE GOD, THREE PERSONS. It's a mystery. It has not been an eternity of self-love. The Father has eternally loved- been enthralled with the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son has eternally loved, been totally devoted to the Father and the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit has forever loved the Father and the Son, and Has been about communicating (communion) that love Father to Son, Son to Father.
So God is eternally Loving directed toward others -forever. God Is Love.
God determined not to keep that love to Himself. He created us, to "Spread that Love."
He created the Heavens and Earth, and said "It is Good". He created Adam and Eve and gave His approbation "it is good". He set them in a beautiful garden because He loved them. He gave Adam Eve, because He loved Adam and Eve, and as an illustration for Jesus' love for His bride. Jesus' bride is His church, which He created, died for and will one day wed in eternal intimacy (it is a mystery as the Apostle Paul declares).
There was something forbidden in the Garden (a literal fruit? we don't know). God warned Adam and Eve not to have this. The temptor came and offered Adam and Eve the opportunity to be free of God's restrictions so they could decide what is right and wrong on their own (a lie). By taking the forbidden [fruit] they decided to reject God. That's what happened to all humanity - we rejected Him. In that day we died eternal separation from God, who is life.
So He sent His Son to live as a man - still God but completely human, to live Adam's choices over again. The deceiver came again, offered Jesus to be his own God. Jesus rejected all offers. Even when the people wanted to make Him an earthly king He rejected their offers. He had one objective one mission one purpose - to do the will of His Father. Why? because of duty? because of fear? Because God is Love, because Jesus loves the Father and always does His will. Because God so loved the World (me M., and You!) that He gave His only Son that whoever trusts Him, not themselves, not their own strength, not their own righteousness, whoever trusts Him alone, believes on Him puts their faith in Him, will have eternal life. That is why He suffered inconceiveable pain on the cross, and the curse of all of humanity's sin, because He Loves the Father, and He Loves us. In the 2nd garden, the garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixtion Jesus prayed, "Father, if it is possible to take this cup from me...none-the-less not my will but thy will be done".
A couple weeks maybe before the garden, when Mary and Martha's beloved brother Lazarus died, Jesus waited a few days to show up. They were distressed because they knew their Lord could have healed Lazarus had He been there. Martha came out to meet Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died". Jesus said "Your brother will rise again". He then said to Martha:
I Am the Resurrection and The LIfe. He who believes in Me, though he dies, yet shall he live. And He who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
Then do you know what He did? (You have to read the whole story, it is very moving),
In order to prove the veracity of the claim He made above, He raised Lazarus from the dead! John Chapter 11.
He Is the Resurrection. He promises to resurrect (bring back to life physically) all who believe in Him and die. He Is the LIfe. He gives eternal life (not life on probation) now, to all who believe in Him. Why? Because He loves us. He won't force Himself on us. Anyone who chooses to reject Him may go their way - without life (spiritual life), and without eternal life.
He gave us The Holy Spirit to make us spiritually alive, and to comfort and to guide us, and as an earnest, a surety, as collateral. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. That means that we who belong to the Lord are His, lock, stock and barrel. To reject us, He would have to forfeit His collateral.
[ADDENDUM] Scripture says that one reason the Holy Spirit is gtven to reside within our hearts, is to show that God has fully secured us for His own, that He could never reject us or lose us, because we are sealed with the Spirit: To lose or reject us, He would be rejecting His own Holy Spirit.
No matter, He wouldn't anyhow because He loves us. He has forever. M. He knew you, when you were being formed in your mother's womb. I look at my wee granddaughters and ooh and ah, (I was oohing and ahing at K's baby yesterday, a grandfather's perogative :O )))the Lord was doing that to us when we were still too small to sonogram. He loves His creatures and wants us to receive His love. People get wrapped up in "you must serve God and love Him and obey and...." You know what M? My Lord isn't all twisted up about that. He knows, He Knows that if I am honest about my own sinfulness, my own unworthiness, (He's good at making us aware), and if I begin to learn how much He has done for me, to bring me to Him again and again, I will begin to really believe that He really really loves me. I begin to abide in Him which reinforces His love for me every day. Why? Why does He Love me? Because. Because that Is Who He Is. He loves me because He is that wonderful. So now I become more and more and more aware. And I could not withhold His love from you if it was 11:48 and I had to get up at 4:15. It is and I must. But no, I must tell you how wonderful He is and how much He loves you. I wish I had a thousand times ten thousand opportunities to tell people just as I'm tellling you now, because I love Him (I blush to say it because I still fail Him daily) because He loves me so much.
I can't try to tell you how it works out, but in some weird way my tough times, and Him walking with me through them, only endears Him to me more.
Oh He doesn't give me everything I want. Often, very often, I think He doesn't give me everything I need (like sleep). He judges my needs from an eternal perspective.
I just want you M., to know that He is there, that He loves you, and is ready for you. Ready for you to do... nothing. Just trust Him. "Yes Lord, I believe You. I trust what you have told me in your word." He will respond to you. The first thing He will do is wrap His arms around you and welcome you home. I did not sense that until years later. I just know it's true. At the same time He sends Eternal God the Holy Spirit into your heart to give you communion (intimate communication) with God the Father and the Lord Jesus (still one God, three persons) and to comfort and to guide you. He will guide you through the scriptures, and through brothers and sisters who are part of your new family but have been walking with Him a while.
Because He loves us, He has promised us "these works that I do, you will do and greater than these, because I go to the Father." So now we have the gift to go to our family our friends and neighbors, and our children around the world [Note to outsiders: our favorite charity is a child sponsorship which supports very poor children, one on one around the world, through their local church. My wife and I sponsor a little girl in Haiti named Barbara, and a little boy in Guatemala named Erick. More info available in the "Birthday" side bar] and offer them ETERNAL LIFE, because we know the One who created us, and redeemed (bought us back) and we know that He loves us and will forever FOREVER be with us.
The Lord Jesus Bless You M. and everyone else who has read this.
Jesus Loves us because God is Love, and He has been loving us forever and ever.
In Jesus' Name