Friday night I was at service listening to the sermon the words were familiar—truths I’ve heard before. (Isn’t that the way it can sometimes feel for those of us who’ve been in the church for a while? Words become so familiar, that it’s almost hard to hear them. Familiarity can become our enemy if we aren’t careful.) I was feeling the familiar, until something the Preacher said struck me—not at all like a lighting bolt, more like a tiny spark that was almost unnoticeable. Nevertheless I heard it. The Preacher said…
“We need to receive more understanding of God’s love and our value to Him. Jesus’ value for His people is seen in His going to the cross—all to have relationship with them. The most worshipful saints think much on the cross.”
How many times have we heard these truths? How many times has the phrase “Jesus loves me” come across our ears? If you grew up in the church, I venture to say countless times. It’s so familiar it becomes nearly imperceptible. We have to fight to hear.
I pray often, “God I want to know You!” I feel like I have this ever-growing-longing inside of me to know His heart. But somehow through the familiarity I’ve failed to realize that part of knowing Him is knowing what He values—and what He values is His people. “Jesus loves me” is more than a child’s song; it is a profound truth exposing the heart of our God.
The next morning I woke up early to go to the Prayer Room. Taking the invitation from the night before—that ever-so-small-almost-unnoticeable-spark—and I turned it into conversation. I said one simple phrase to the Lord:
“I am so valuable to You.”
I spoke the phrase. Then paused. And then I simply said it again to Him.
“I am so valuable to You.”
Unbelief. Dullness. Familiarity. All wanting to stop the conversation but I continued believing that there was something more in knowing this part of His heart, so I labored to believed how He felt about me. I kept saying it again and again and again, over and over, “I am so valuable to You.”
Each time I said it I could feel truth going deeper. I was starting to believe—to hear. That small spark was turning into a flame on the inside of me. More than language, more than rhetoric, the words were becoming real. “Jesus loves ME”—it wasn’t the first time I heard this, but rather another time.
We need the “another time” to happen repeatedly. We need to continually remind ourselves of His deep love for us. Asking the question: Do I really know how valuable I am to Him? Oh this question is a place we need linger. It’s a meditation that we need to ponder deeply—and often. We can see a picture of this in the Gospel of John when John said of himself, “I am the one that Jesus loves.” John believed it and made it personal by speaking it over and over again. And this is our invitation too.
There is a famous story about the theologian Karl Barth. It goes like this: near the end of Barth’s life, having written the most monumental theological work of the 20th Century, having read virtually every other theological work ever penned, a journalist asks him, “What is the greatest truth you’ve ever heard?” To which Barth replies, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible the Bible tells me so.”
I think John the disciple and Karl Barth were on to something—something that I want to be a part of.