So, last night I was at theMILL, which is our college & twenty-somethings ministry at New Life Church, we were promoting our internship, Desperation Leadership Academy. I was getting ready to share a quick testimony of all that the Lord has done in my life through the program this last year. The Holy Spirit was just so touching my heart during worship as I was overwhelmed with His love and greatness, when out of nowhere, this girl runs up to me with tears in her eyes. She asked, "Is your name Melissa?"And feeling bad that I had no idea who she was, I answered her that I was, and she began to tell me how I had never met her, but two years ago she was at some party, she wasn't someone who went to those kind of things but somehow just happened to be there, and she was so intrigued by me for some reason. She went on to tell me that she asked someone there who I was and they told her I was Melissa Mikkelsen and that I was a model. So, because of fear and intimidation she didn't come and talk to me, but as she went home, the Lord prompted her to look me up on the computer, and God told her to pray for me. So in that moment, she said she sat there just praying over her computer for me and experiencing God's great love for me, her heart breaking for me as God's heart broke for me. And almost exactly two years later, there I was right in front of her, set free from all the chains of death that had been upon me when she prayed for me and living in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! And she said in that moment, she could feel the Lord's great delight over me and how happy He was that I was His, that I was there in my Father's arms. Hallelujah! Both of us just got struck with the love and faithfulness of God in the moment and began weeping. I was radically saved just 2 months after she had prayed for me! Wow, how powerful! But can I tell you something even more amazing? She is the third person who has told me almost that exact same story! That the Lord took multiple people through seasons of praying for me, people who didn't know me, people who hadn't seen me in years, He told them to pray for ME! Why? Because He WANTED ME! Me! Melissa! Individually! He wanted me so much that He led other people to pray for me! He wasn't going to give up until He had me. And this is your story.
Romans 5:10 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us." And this truth is about so much more than grace, His grace that covers all my sin and empowers me to live holy and consecrated, that I am forever grateful for. But this truth, mainly, is about His LOVE. He loves us that much in our brokenness, in our sin, in our disobedience to Him, that He died for us, so that we could be HIS, wrapped in His love and His delight over each one of us. In Song of Solomon 8:6, it says that, "for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave." God's love is as strong as death. Do you know what that means? Death and the grave is inevitable, we all eventually will die, there is no escaping it, but that is exactly how His love is for you. You can't escape it, no matter what you do, no matter how many times you mess up, no matter where you hide, His love, His love that is so jealous for your individual heart, is stronger than death. So strong that He will move other people on YOUR behalf, because He WANTS you, He looks down at you, and He says that He won't stop until He has you, all of you.
I so love the reading the Gospels, and learning about Jesus from Jesus, and putting myself right there in the story with Him. And we have so much that we can learn from the disciples. If you look at the lives of Peter and John, the two of them are so different. Peter was a mighty man of God, a great warrior for the faith. We know him as the one that loved Jesus, that would do anything for Jesus. When Jesus asked Him, "Peter do you love me?" over and over again he said, "Lord you KNOW that I love you!" And then we know John, John the Beloved, the one who calls himself, the disciple whom Jesus loved. At times we even can even be like, okay John we get it, we're glad that you know that you're the one Jesus loved! I find it interesting though, that even though Peter was the one who boldly professed and stood on HIS love FOR Jesus, he was the one that betrayed Jesus at the end of His life. John was the ONLY disciple that was there when Jesus was crucified and gave up His life for us. I think that it was in John's knowing God's love for HIM that sustained him, rather than standing confident in his own weak love for God. It is HIS love that holds us, it is knowing HIS love for us that keeps us.
So often we rely on our own striving, our own determination to keep our life in God strong, and I think that there are very necessary ways that we need to live to sustain our life in God. But I have learned that I can't have confidence in my own commitment to God, I can only have confidence in His commitment to ME! It is not our own love that sustains us, it is His passionate, jealous, all-consuming love for US that will sustain us to the end. HE is the One committed to US! And it is only our job to commit to positioning ourselves and our lives in a way to receive that great love that He has for us! Jude 1:1 says, "To those who have been called, who are loved IN God the Father and KEPT for Jesus Christ." God, in His love, KEEPS us, He keeps us in His love, He keeps us in Him, why? For His Son! For Jesus, because the Father promised Jesus a worthy and prepared Bride, and so God is committed to bringing us into fullness because that is what Jesus died on the cross for, for His inheritance, His reward, and you ARE that reward, that YOU would be with Him for eternity.
So let us be the ones, the ones that stand confident in His great, fiery, jealous love for US, not in our own ability to love Him, but being filled with awe and majesty at the God that loves us that much! And in verse 21 of Jude, it says to, "keep yourselves IN God's love," reminding ourselves that WE are the disciple whom Jesus loves, and we would hold on to that truth, abide in that vine, the vine of His love. And that the great revelation of His immense love for us would overflow back to Him as lovesick worshippers of our Lord & Savior who love Him and live lives given up for Him out of the overflow of that deep, incomprehensible love He has for us.