It doesn’t take much for me to cry. Or smile for that matter. I have a very hard time hiding what is in my heart. But what is the reason I cry?
I remember a time long ago when I didn’t know Jesus, when I misrepresented Jesus, when I had no idea who He really was, and then—He revealed Himself to me. I didn’t deserve that. His invitation, grace, light, forgiveness, and love broke me and restored me, and sometimes I think I’ll never fully recover. I kind of hope not. And now. Well, now I often cry in moments when I am overwhelmed by the beauty and love of God. His love changed my life and I can’t pretend it didn’t.
I am so overcome by Jesus that I even got all teary in front of my kindergarten church group a few Sundays ago. I was trying to tell them why I loved Jesus. I was trying to tell them that Jesus loves them. My heart swelled with the importance of what I was saying. I knew it was life, that there is a day each one will need to draw deep on God’s love to know they are valuable and precious and someone worth dying for. And I choked up. And every eye looked at me, wide-eyed and amused, because what was it that was making Ms. Monica cry? I smiled through my tears because I had their ears, and I told them again that when I figured out how much Jesus loved me, no matter what, I couldn’t help but love Him back. And I told them why I come into their classroom every week. I beamed as I told them that I come there because I want them to know how much Jesus loves them, too! And my young son looked at his friends and reassured them. “Those are her happy tears.”
Happy tears indeed.
We complicate the Gospel. We complicate our mission. It’s all pretty simple. Dive into the Word of God and pray and see just how much Jesus loves you. He loves you with every single bit of who He is and He tells us that absolutely nothing can ever separate us from His love. Nothing. And then He asks us to believe Him.
God’s pure love will change you. And it’s the love of God that teaches me what love is. It’s the love of God that compels me to love Him back. The tears begin to fall because He is so amazing. Gosh. I know I don’t deserve Him. I could never earn His love or live a life that is perfect and good enough to make me look like an object worthy of His affection. And yet. He created me and He created you and He loves us. If He says we are worthy of love, then we are.
We can’t change God with our behavior, good or bad. He loves us, period.
Dive into His love and let it take over your whole being, your whole life. And then the rest is simple. Maybe not easy, but simple. We will learn we can trust Jesus, and then we will realize it is okay, it is safe, it is best, it is something we can’t help, to surrender everything to Him—all our heart, soul, and mind. He will awaken us to our sin and lead us in the way of reconciliation. And somehow, amidst the conviction, we will find freedom. In the middle of repentance, we will find awe and experience joy because forgiveness heals. And we will love Him even more.
When we learn about His love for us and we start to love Him back, the love He gives us will pour out on our neighbor. And we might even cry in front of a bunch of kindergartners who will shake their head, and then nod and smile, because they realize they just heard something big and important. And they are okay to understand happy tears that eek out of the corner of your eyes because you can’t help it. May the love of Jesus never stop overwhelming me, whether I end up crying or not. And Lord, may my tears never keep people from seeing the truth of Your love in my heart.
So let’s soak up the love of Christ. Let’s give Him permission to refine and transform us as we keep our eyes on Him, loving Him more with every breath. And then let’s go love people with that same kind of selfless love. Let’s not over-complicate this love business, even if it does have a cost. And even if sharing this love makes our crinkly-smile-eyes a little teary.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sin. –I John 4:10 (The Kindergarten Memory Verse for February)
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” –Matthew 22:36-39
We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. –John 1:14
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. –I Corinthians 13:4-8