Girlfriends in God - Aug. 30, 2010

August 30, 2010  

Yes, Jesus Loves Me! 

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Matthew 19:14 "Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. ‘"

Friend to Friend 
I believe that much of our stress is the result of a constant and innate quest to be loved and to love. The problems come when we look in the wrong places for love. When we know God, we know love. When we experience His unconditional love, we are then freed and empowered to love ourselves and others. I have personally discovered that it is just downright frustrating and completely impossible to live the Christian life when you are not a Christian. I tried.

For years, I desperately struggled to be a Christian with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions.

I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every time the doors were open. I sang all the right songs, spoke all the right words and did all the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler. It was not until middle school that the spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God. I needed to experience the unconditional love of God. 

During a special Saturday evening church service, I sat in my usual spot, clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children's choir. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I'd been living a lie.

My mind argued that I knew all about God - and then the deeper truth of that argument hit me. Yes, I knew about Him but I didn't know Him. His perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with his children.

That night I met Jesus! I surrendered all that I knew about myself to all that I knew about Him. While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered that I still had to deal with life on a daily basis and still had to face stressful situations. The difference was that God's love preceded me, surrounded and sustained me as I lived each day. Knowing we are loved fosters contentment and peace in our hearts, and when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress. 

One of the highlights of my day is when our 13 month-old-grandson is getting ready for bed. No, it is not his favorite time of the day, but his mom has a routine that works well. She gives Justus a bath, during which he absolutely soaks every square inch of the bathroom. His squeals of laughter and loud splashes can be heard by everyone in the house. Danna then wraps him in a big, fluffy towel and brings him to everyone so that they can see the "clean baby" and give him a goodnight kiss. Next come lotion and pajamas followed by "bah" which means, "It's time to read a book." The light in his room is then dimmed, the musical fish sing and dance across the ceiling … and Justus settles down in his crib with Elmo in one hand and his blanket in the other, falling fast asleep within seconds. In a perfect world - which this is not - that scenario is played out every night.

However, on nights when Justus does not feel well, or needs a few extra hugs, Danna will ask me if I would like to rock him. I know. It is a rotten job but somebody has to do it! I scoop that precious little man into my arms and we settle into the rocker in his room. As we rock, I sing to him. I have quite a repertoire of "Mimi" ballads, but when I start to sing "Jesus Loves Me," Justus always looks up at me with his big brown eyes and gets very still and quiet until the song is finished. I put him in his crib and he usually does go right to sleep. However, last night, it was a different story.

Danna has been teaching Justus sign language and one of his favorite words to sign is "more." When I finished singing and started to get up, Justus stretched out his little hands and signed "more." Did I sit back down and sing some more? Do birds fly? Do fish swim? 

With tears streaming down my face, I sang "Jesus Loves Me" until he was sound asleep. I sat in the rocker, just holding him, thinking about how very much I love this baby boy. In that quiet moment, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, "Mary, Jesus loves you, too." As Justus and I rocked a few minutes longer, the stress of the day melted away and I revisited the moment I met Jesus and first experienced His unchanging love. That quiet celebration filled my heart and left no room for anything but the love of God.

Yes, Jesus loves me, and He loves you, too.  

Let's Pray 
Father, I come to You, thanking You for the love You have given me through the life and death of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please help me to walk in that love every day with the faith of a child.

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn 

Right now, wherever you are, let the words of this simple song lead you in a quiet celebration of God's love for you.

Jesus loves me, this I know. 
For the Bible tells me so. 
Little ones to Him belong. 
They are weak but He is strong. 

Yes, Jesus loves me. 
Yes, Jesus loves me. 
Yes, Jesus loves me. 
The Bible tells me so.

More from the Girlfriends 
When we experience the love of God, everything changes. Our prayer for you today is that you know God and walk in His love for you. If you have questions and are seeking God, check out our website at

Need help? Summer vacation is almost over! Get ready for the new school year by reading Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap. You will discover a step-by-step plan found in Psalm 23 that will help you walk in peace.

Join women from across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. Sandpaper People is the current series and will help you discover ten ways to deal with the "sandpaper people" in your life - you know - the ones that rub you the wrong way. When you enroll, you also have access to all of the 2010 studies. Check it out!

FREE MP3s Check out these free MP3s from Mary. I Love a Good Plan and Getting Past Your Past.

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Originally published Monday, 30 August 2010.