You are loved. Did you know that?
This past Sunday, I visited my home church, First United Methodist in downtown Longview. The Chancel Choir was performing their Easter Cantata and my mom sings in the choir (she’s a beaut). The music at FUMC is breathtaking and I always look forward to going back for holidays and special occasions.
It’s powerful and moving and I am brought to tears nearly every time I visit.
We sang two of my all-time favorite hymns this past Sunday, How Great Thou Art…
And when I think of God,
His son not sparing,
Sent Him to die,
I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden
gladly bearing He bled and died
to take away my sin
…and Crown Him With Many Crowns…
Crown Him the Lord of life!
Who triumphed o’er the grave,
Who rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.
Our church has stained glass windows lining the sanctuary walls and each individual window tells a different story of Jesus. I can still remember sitting in the pews as a little girl just staring at the stained glass windows over my shoulder. My eyes fixated on them.
There is one stained glass window in particular, however, that surpasses all the rest. It sits on the wall behind the choir loft, nestled amongst the organ pipes.
It’s a picture of Jesus with his arms extended and there is an angel bowing down on each side of him (see below).
SIDE NOTE: I actually just found out today this stained glass window represents Christ’s resurrection!
IS THAT A JAW-DROPPING IMAGE OR WHAT? I’m telling you…you can physically feel Christ’s presence in that sanctuary.
Imagine listening to the world’s greatest choir (I’m not biased at all) and looking up to see the sunlight beaming through this stained glass window. It’s the perfect depiction of Christ’s radiance.
I CAN’T NOT CRY…and don’t even get me STARTED on the Hallelujah Chorus!
I see that image of Christ and immediately find myself overwhelmed with love and acceptance, like he has a place for me.
It’s as if Jesus is offering me a personal invitation to join him…
…and he is.
Jesus is inviting me in, and he’s inviting you in, too.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve been reading A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado. IT IS SO GOOD! I’m 100% sure this will not be the last time I refer to it. I highly recommend you read it! I teared up in the first chapter.
Basically, he breaks down 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (love is patient, love is kind, etc.), simplifies it, and applies it to our everyday lives. He then uses biblical examples of how Jesus perfectly exemplifies each characteristic.
Anyway, in Chapter 5, Lucado writes:
If you knew that only a few would care that you came, would you still come? If you knew that those you loved would laugh in your face, would you still care? And if you knew that the tongues you made would mock you, the mouths you made would spit at you, the hands you made would crucify you, would you still make them? Christ did. Would you regard the immobile and invalid more important than yourself? Jesus did.
He humbled himself. He went from commanding angels to sleeping in the straw. From holding stars to clutching Mary’s finger. The palm that held the universe took the nail of a soldier.
Why? Because that’s what love does. It puts the beloved before itself. Your soul was more important than his blood. Your eternal life was more important than his place in heaven, so he gave up his so you could have yours.
That’s how much you are loved.
Jesus knew all those things would happen to him and yet he chose to bear the cross for us anyway. It’s the greatest love story of all time.
Lucado goes on to say,
[God’s love] is a love we cannot resist.
Some of you are so thirsty for this type of love. Those who should have loved you didn’t. Those who could have loved you didn’t. You were left at the hospital. Left at the altar, left with an empty bed. Left with a broken heart. Left with your question “Does anybody love me?”
Please listen to heaven’s answer. God loves you. Personally. Powerfully. Passionately. Others have promised and failed. But God has promised and succeeded. He loves you with an unfailing love. And his love–if you will let it–can fill you and leave you with a love worth giving.
As I read those words, I couldn’t help but think about that stained glass window and how much it represents Christ’s love for us. It has his kindness, compassion, goodness, grace, and mercy painted all over it…and it’s beautiful.
So if you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Does anybody love me?”, I pray you know the answer is YES. You ARE loved.
You are loved UNCONDITIONALLY. So much so that Christ GAVE HIS LIFE FOR YOU.
No other love can compare.
This Easter, may you know Jesus is waiting for you, arms outstretched.
He’s saved a place for you.