Jesus Loves Me, This I Know…
“…For the Bible tells me so; little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong!” What a gigantic truth is couched in those simple words! In case you other octogenarians, like me, who might think that is “kid stuff,” remember what Jesus said: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
Whether or not we will show up in heaven with the appearance of age is not a certainty, as far as I know; but someone has speculated that we may appear about the age of thirty years—but if there is any indication anywhere, let me know. The verse above says we are to “become as little children,” which implies “simplicity and uncomplicated.”
A friend mentioned recently that once the late Karl Barth (1886-1968), noted Swiss-German theologian, was asked what was his greatest theological thought he had ever had. He thought for a moment, then replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”
I have felt drawn to search out and express, hopefully in some way, the simplicity of acquiring a relationship with Jesus, the Christ, the only begotten Son of God. The Bible declares that God is no respecter of persons, thus the often-used word “whosoever” shows up regularly in any invitation by God to come to Him. The most famous verse, or at least the most well-known one, is John 3:16, which tells us,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” No doubt many, many people have realized an emptiness in their lives, a sense of an uncertain destiny, and have come to Jesus just on that simple promise. It does not answer any questions of “why” or “how” or “when,” but it does say “whosoever.”
A similar, all-inclusive word of possibility shows up in Romans 10:13: “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Also a quote from Joel 2:32, thus telling us a great deal about a relationship with God during Old Testament times.)
Some want to say that Revelation 3:20 is out of context when used to picture the avenue to a relationship with Jesus, but I view the Word of God as basically eternal because He is eternal, unless it is specific to the context. For example, see how “anyone” has kinship with “whosoever” in that verse:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Some translations render it “live” rather than “dine,” thus indicating permanency of residence.)
Note that it does say, “I will come into him,” also revealing a major truth that Paul calls “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” a great mystery: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
It is likely that many believers, and perhaps some non-believers, have experienced circumstances that seem to be the ups and downs of life; but looking back, we see the hand of God in them. A close call in an accident, an apparent missed connection on a plane flight which ended in a fatal disaster, or perhaps a rejection of an offer of friendship that would have compromised your witness for Christ are some examples.
In the mid-1960’s the lady who later became my wife shared a local ministry with a couple; and the husband decided he was to rejoin the Air Force as a B-52 pilot. Later on, the two women were arriving near the Omaha base where he was stationed to visit him when a plane took off as they approached, then was hidden by a rising, tree-covered hill. Suddenly, a plume of black smoke mingled with flames appeared from over the hill.
The two women gasped in horror, fearing they were too late to see him off, and that he had crashed on takeoff. Providentially, they learned, his plane was next in line for takeoff, thus he was spared.
A couple of years later, though, in the summer of 1969, he and his crew took off on a mission to the high skies of the far North. During the flight a short, clipped radio comment came through without clarity; and no more was ever learned of their destiny—no wreckage, no evidence of anything about the plane.
This, too, reminds me of another incident of the ancient past – that of Enoch, of whom it is said, “He walked with God and was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).
Could it have been an incident of that nature? Perhaps, for no one knows – or at least it has not been revealed, any details of their disappearance. The sovereignty of God must be the foundation of our faith in circumstances not understandable.
I am thinking of the movie of the book titled “Forrest Gump” written by Winston Groom. Likely as not, the story line as done in the movie does not readily show what I have seen in it when the reader or viewer follows it through; but bear with me. A caution, too, is that one probably should not show it to children, as my pastor has observed.
Threaded through the story is the evident picture of the total degradation of humanity. The unspoken lifestyle by assumed necessity of Forrest’s mother; the bullying of Forrest by the other children when he was a crippled youngster; the girl Jenny’s despicable father and family life, evident by her hatred for him and her place of upbringing—these are some of the unspoken background scenarios that describe the utter destitute conditions that existed.
Forrest, a simple-minded and slow-to-learn kid, moves along in life, his needs providentially met, so it appears, as one who has an overshadowing guidance that his simplicity embraced without question. His mother gave favors of herself to provide for his progress and welfare. It reminds me of the woman, Rahab, whose character was questionable, yet she hid the two spies Joshua sent into the Promised Land to spy it out before the Hebrews came in and captured Jericho. Rahab later shows up in the lineage of Jesus, the Savior.
Forrest becomes a soldier and is sent to combat in Viet Nam where he has a buddy, a black man named Bubba. They developed a friendship that was like brothers, and Bubba gave Forrest a vision of shrimp fishing. Bubba was wounded and Forrest carried him to safety, risking his own life, although Bubba was fatally wounded. Their platoon leader, Lieutenant Dan, also was wounded, losing both legs; and Forrest went back into the jungle to rescue him as well, though the officer did not want to live as an amputee.
God isn’t mentioned in these incidents, but the acts of brotherly love shown by Forrest are that thread that continues in the story. Forrest’s love for Jenny without restriction by her own moral struggles is a picture of the love described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Later, when Forrest and Lt. Dan are struggling with their shrimp boat business, Lt. Dan is perched up in the boat’s crow’s nest, railing at God because of his legless condition. Forrest is narrating the scenario of how Lt. Dan is badgering God to appear, and says, “Pretty soon God showed up,” and it took the form of a cloudburst and thunder storm that tossed the boat all about.
That is how God shows up, sometimes in dramatic fashion, then again in quiet, simple indications of His presence. This picture, though, reminds me of the poem and hymn by William Cowper that vividly portrays the power and majesty of God in this way:
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm!
If you watch the movie with these things in mind, perhaps the presence of God in their lives will show through. Only God can take people out of degradation and despair and turn them into vessels of honorable service to Him. And it is a truth that God has to use imperfect people for His service, for there are no perfect ones that He can choose from, just as this Forrest Gump story seems to imply. Those of us who think we are really something must come to the realization that we are totally poor, spiritually, without Jesus.
Humility is not something we can be proud of, for it can only come to us when we look at Jesus and understand who He is and what He has done for us. Another song that touches me begins this way: “Wonder of wonders that thrills my soul, Jesus loves even me.”
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