Does Jesus Love You? A Quiz

Here we are at the end of another exhausting week. I don’t know about you but I feel depleted. I don’t know if it’s the cold I’m fighting or the worry that’s nagging, or the world that seems to have gone to the other side of crazy, but I’m plum wore out.

When I feel this way, there’s no amount of self-motivational chatter or mindless eating or brisk walks or any THING that can pull me out of the funk.

Except.  Jesus.

I sat down this morning and opened up my Bible, lapping up the Scriptures like a sun-baked hound dog. I flipped through the pages and underlined verses, allowing them to soak into my parched, thirsty soul. But still, the day beat me down.

I realized this afternoon that my frantic searching through Scriptures was still ME – doing, striving, working.

It’s true that I need God’s Word but without ‘the Word made flesh’ it’s not enough.

I need Jesus.

This made me think of you, my sweet friend. How was your week? Are you feeling depleted and worn-out? Do you feel like a hamster on the wheel, spinning around and around and getting nowhere?

Maybe you read my words above and think “Yeah, me too. I need Jesus.” Maybe you read them and thought, “Jesus? I’m fine, thanks.” or maybe you read them and thought, “Jesus. I don’t know if I need Him and even more, I don’t know if He would want me.”  Whatever your response, I have a few questions for you. Answer them honestly if you want to know if Jesus’ love is for you.

Would you describe yourself as an optimist, a realist or a pessimist?

Jesus loves you.

Is your bank account fat or are you dirt poor and sinking in debt?  

Jesus loves you.

Are you a pastor? Are you a porn addict? Are you both?  

Jesus loves you.

Are you straight? Are you gay? Are you trans? Do you not know how to answer?  

Jesus loves you.

Did you spend your day in the service of others? Did you waste your day in front of the TV?  

Jesus loves you.

Are you enveloped in the love of friends and family? Are you desperately lonely and hopelessly friendless?  

Jesus loves you.

Did you encourage your children with words of affirmation and love today or did you scream uncontrollably at the people you claim to love? 

Jesus loves you.

Are you fit? Are you fat? 

Jesus loves you.

Are you conservative, liberal or ‘over it’? 

Jesus loves you.

Is your business successful and flourishing? Are you a complete and utter failure? 

Jesus loves you.

Have you spent your life in the pews of a church or have you determined to never darken the door of a house of worship? 

Jesus loves you.

Are you a believer, a doubter or a cynic? 

Jesus loves you.

Are you a teetotaler, a social drinker or a raging alcoholic?

Jesus loves you.

Have you been betrayed? Are you a betrayer?

Jesus loves you.

Do you have a genius IQ or is your mind broken in ways you can’t express? 

Jesus loves you.

Jesus loves you.

There is nothing you can DO to deserve His love more. There is nothing you have done that will make Him love you less. Isaiah 49:16 says that God loves you so much that He tattooed your name on the palm of His hand. That’s some hard-core serious love! Psalm 56:8 says that He loves you so much that He saves your tears in a bottle. He sees you. He hears you. He loves you.

Jesus loves you so much that He gave His life for you. He suffered a brutal, painful death for you.
He longs to be in relationship with you – to know you and to be known by you, to bind up your wounds, to bring peace and love and strength to your weary, worn-out soul.

If you want this love – this tattooed-on-the-palm-of-His-hand, tear-saving-in-a-bottle, dying-on-the-cross-for-you love, all you have to do is ask. Admit that you’re a sinner (welcome to the club!) and ask Jesus to take up residence in your heart. Trust me, a relationship with Jesus is the greatest love affair you could ever imagine. A love without restraint, without limit and without end.

The Chains We Show and The Chains You Cannot See

He was handsome, with dark black skin, a proud erect stance and a muscular build. I hadn’t seen him before but I was fairly new so perhaps he was a regular. He moved quickly across the yard and took his place in line. It was Friday morning and I was serving breakfast to our local homeless community.

He was younger than the average man there and taller by several inches. But the thing that made him stand out was what he wore. Draped around his neck was a thick chain.

No, that’s not it. That picture you have in your mind – a thick gold chain, a piece of jewelry – that’s not it. He wore an actual chain.

No. You’re still not picturing it right. It wasn’t like a bike chain or a dog chain, it was more like this.

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The chain he wore around his neck was a heavy, steel chain – dark gray like thunderclouds – the kind of chain you would expect to see in a shipyard, tied to a piece of equipment or lifting a crate to the deck of a ship.

It weighed several pounds. It was at least three feet long and each link was two inches – but in spite of it’s weight, the young man stood straight and tall. The burden of it made no impact on his posture.  He had that chain draped around his neck and hanging down his chest as casually as a winter scarf.

As he moved up the line, I felt it and it was clear the other men felt it too. The tension in his body crackled in the air around him, electric like a gathering storm. Inadvertently, the men in front of and behind him moved a few inches, giving him a wide berth.

Finally, he stood before me. I looked up into his handsome face, smiled and greeted him. He stared back at me with blank eyes as dark as a winter night, without a flicker of light or warmth.

He didn’t respond to my greeting but simply took his food and walked away.

I finished serving breakfast, completed my morning tasks at the kitchen and went home, but I couldn’t get this young man out of my mind.

That chain. He was literally wearing his chain. He had surrendered to the burden that life dealt him so completely that he wore it, like a millstone, for the world to see.

How weary he must be, shouldering that every day, I thought. I sat down on the sofa, imagining the weight on my own shoulders, and prayed for peace for his soul.

That’s when it struck me. We all have chains. Some of us show our pain on the outside, sending signals to the world through our faces, our clothing, our scars, a tattoo and even a chain. There’s a scar that runs the length of my husband’s chest – the result of his open heart surgery. It’s a constant reminder to us of his brush with death.

Most of us, however, wear our chains on the inside. Our scars are hidden there where nobody but God can see.

We wear masks to hide the pain. Paste on smiles to disguise our scars. Laugh and nod to one another while hiding the burden of our chains.

I have borne my own chains. The chains of my sin. The burden of my past. The heavy weight of regret and pain. These chains shackled my spirit with fear. I was helpless to remove them on my own. But then this.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Oh, how the tender words of Jesus ministered to my heart, like an ointment to my sin-sick soul. When I fully surrendered my sin and my pain to Jesus, he removed the chains that were binding me and set me free to love fully and accept his forgiveness completely.

I don’t have to bear the burden of my sin. You don’t have to bear the weight of your shame.

Surely He has borne our griefs

And carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

We have turned, every one, to his own way;

And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:4-6

To My Friend Who Had An Abortion

I remember the day you told me. The shame and anguish in your voice. The tears that flowed like a storm surge after a hurricane – unrelenting and washing over you in wave after wave of grief. Your body convulsed and your wailing pierced the air. How helpless and inept I felt in the face of such sorrow.

I think of you often these days. I’m reminded of you every time I see a post meant to heap even more shame and guilt. How is your heart holding up under the weight of it all?

We never talked of it again, you and I. I’m sorry that the only thing I offered you was a weak hug and a few tears. I long to go back and hold your face between my hands. Remind you how much you are loved and how deeply you are forgiven. I regret not praying with you. I regret not weeping with you. I regret not mourning with you or acknowledging the depths of your loss, your pain, your heartache, your shame.

If, by some twist of fate, you happen to read this, please know God’s love for you is greater than the storm surge of your grief. His forgiveness is deeper than the pit of your shame. His blood has washed away the stain of your scarlet letter.

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Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Is. 1:18)

I pray that your life is surrounded by grace; that your heart is immersed in love. I beg you – lay down the stones you cast at yourself. Pry open your hands and let them tumble, one by one at the Savior’s feet. Stand up and acknowledge your scars and use them to bring healing to others.

I haven’t forgotten you, dear friend. I’m thinking of you tonight and I’m reminding you of God’s grace.

You are not your past. You are a precious child of God – loved and redeemed and whole.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion.

Psalm 103:1-4