Love Jesus

Nov 01, 2007 |Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

How?

My Jesus, I love Thee.

Do I? Sometimes I feel as if I don't even know what it means to love Jesus. This man who is the Hero of my Bible and the Savior of my soul. The One who began his ministry at my age and wielded more influence in three years than anyone else did in a lifetime.

How do I love this person — human and divine — who carried my most revolting sins, suffered a humiliating death for them, and yet calls me friend? He is my example, my brother, my lover, my advocate, my king. There is so much to love. But how?

Loving myself, I get. Loving those who make me feel desired and cared about, I understand. Even loving my enemies. It's a discipline, but I can do it. But loving Jesus?

If You Love Me

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

The comment slips out. It sounded good in my head. I knew it would impress the person privy to the juicy morsel of gossip. It leaves my lips, and I feel the beginning of a storm in my spirit. Sure, I get the momentary satisfaction I'm after, but the rain has begun and it's about to pour.

I say I love Jesus, but am I willing to give up gossip or lust for Him? Am I OK with appearing foolish or intolerant to my friends? Does loving Him prompt me to turn off the television or cut up my credit cards? Not often enough. Instead, I find myself enamored with, and protective of, the variety of follies at my disposal.

If you love me, you will obey what I command.

Obedience? Tearful moments of submission are far more glamorous. Sweeping gestures of sacrifice are more rewarding. Obedience has the ring of drudgery to it. Choosing not to look at that, not to go there, not to say that, seems mundane.

Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Jesus tells me how I can love Him. Obey Me.

I Love Because ...

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

At 21, I sit with an I.V. in my arm. I've received these treatments every day for four weeks. An autoimmune disorder has made it painful for me to walk or even raise my arms. Insurance won't pay. My parents are going into debt to give me this chance to get better. It's the biggest thing anyone's ever done for me.

I've always known my parents love me, but their sacrifice proves it. They are committed to doing whatever it takes to restore me to health. They have done something I could never have done for myself, and I love them for it.

The greatest human sacrifice doesn't come close to what Jesus did for me. How often do I think about Him wearing that painful crown or carrying a heavy, wooden cross up that hill? I've seen the Passion of the Christ. I can conjure up the picture. The whip. The mocking. The thorns pressed in.

But these images rarely make their way into my everyday life. My mind space is consumed with other stuff — movies, music, work, friends, money issues. Rarely do I meditate on Jesus' sacrifice for me. What my sin cost Him. His willingness to do whatever it took to restore me and give me life.

If I did, I think I would love Him more. A lot more. And I would be eager to lead others to the source of that love. Everyone's looking for love. They're desperate for it. What if they knew that Jesus did the biggest thing for them? They might love Him, too.

We love because he first loved us.

A Matter of Life and Death

I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

The guestbook overflows with condolences. The young mother from my church who died last week leaves behind a husband and four kids. She had hoped to live another month so they could go to Disney World. But cancer doesn't respect the wishes of a mother's heart. Still, in her last painful days, Evie loved Jesus.

Seven pages of online posts reveal a person who took advantage of each breath.

"You showed the love and compassion of Jesus in everything you did."

"I never met you in person, but you helped me through a dark time in my life."

"Your love for Jesus and your family were evident."

Evie loved Jesus — in life and death.

Sometimes life feels like death. Unjust circumstances. Hope lost. Loneliness. How will I love Jesus in the micro death of surrendering my desires and will to His each day? How will I praise Him with each breath?

Long life isn't a promise. Tomorrow I could discover I have days to live. How will I respond? If I love Jesus like Evie loved Jesus, death is a prize because it is the opportunity to see the One I love face to face.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Death is a continuation of a beautiful love story. Its consummation. One of my college professors used to say, "This is the short side of life." I am learning to love Christ now, while I breathe. And I will continue to do so after my spirit leaves this body.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Everlasting Love

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I'll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

My sister and I stand next to Lee, one of the last remaining grandfathers of our church. This year's Thanksgiving hymn sing is his first without his bride of 50 years sitting beside him. Yet he sings each hymn with joy and passion.

"Hymn 67!" he shouts. "Like a River Glorious." We start singing — my sister soprano, me alto. Lee sings loudest of all, his voice cracking with emotion.

Like a river glorious, is God's perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

"This one's for you Jackie," Lee says, thrusting a hand in the air. Tears stream down his face. My sister and I choke out the next words.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

I look at Lee with his exultant expression. He loves Jesus. Though He and Jackie no longer share a pew, he knows they are connected by their love for the Savior.

Loving Jesus here is only the beginning. One day I will bow before Jesus, rule with him, love Him, learn of Him ... forever. Now is the rehearsal before the show.

My Jesus, I love Thee. I will obey You and remember Your sacrifice. I will praise You in life and death. I will love you forever.

Copyright 2007 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.

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