For months, a Hillsong praise song about Jesus has been stuck in my head. It’s the one with the words “Jesus, lover of my soul. Jesus, I will never let you go.” It just bubbles up, especially when I’m out riding my bike. Lately I’ve been changing the words to say, Jesus, you’ll never let me go. I know I want to hold on to him, but I know he wants to hold on to me even more, and his “hands” don’t get sweaty and lose their grip.
Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from God’s love – absolutely nothing. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV).
Nothing can separate us from his love, and nothing is more encouraging than knowing the bond between Jesus and us is unbreakable. “Though my world may fall,” neither of us will ever let go. The Father loved us first, Jesus loves us and the Holy Spirit loves us – and I will sing it forever.
Sometimes I think I should stop reading devotionals, but then I might not have so much to write about. I’m constantly surprised, although maybe I shouldn’t be, at the statements some authors make about God, with seemingly no thought as to how they portray God. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt but can’t help commenting.
I recently read an article about putting Jesus first. Overall, it was good and had valid points, until I got to the part where the author said, “Jesus demands and deserves to be the first love in our lives.” He certainly deserves first place, but does he demand it? That doesn’t sound like the Jesus I know. The Jesus I know is a loving shepherd who leads me beside still waters, makes me lie down in green pastures and restores my soul. When I’m tired and stressed, he leads me into his rest; his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.
And yes, the great command is to love God, but not before he loves us, and not because he demands it of us. A human lover who demands to be loved is usually considered somewhat mental. And God isn’t like us. Rather than demanding love, he loves us into loving him. He loves us into being first in our hearts and minds, the center of our lives and the focal point of all our hopes and dreams. With that kind of love, we can’t help putting him first in our attentions and affections.
By now, most people have given up making resolutions. Several years ago, resolutions began to be replaced by the simplicity of a single word. I’ve had a “one word” for quite a few years now and I know many of you have adopted this as well. Being given a word by God and then reflecting on it throughout the year helps me focus on one thing and sets the tone and direction for growth in grace and knowledge.
This year God gave me the word unfazed. It jumped out at me as I was reading Romans 8:37-39 in The Message: “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
Life took some unexpected turns for me last year and I’m certain this coming year will also hold some surprises. By remembering my word, I hope to ride the waves in the love and strength of Jesus, and not let any of it faze me. I’m going to hold onto the fact that nothing can separate me from his love, even the rough stuff.