I write this as I mourn for the heart of a lost friend. I am in the first semester of my freshman year of college and I have learned more about God and my faith than in my whole life.
This summer, I went on a mission trip which opened my eyes to the scope of God’s unconditional love. I fell in love with kids I had only known for a few days and really bore their struggles with them and desired for them to have relationships with Jesus. I cried for joy when I saw two of the girls come to salvation and wept after I left the camp with my family. I remember thinking that if my love for these kids could be so great after being with them for a few days, how great is God’s love. He created us and knows us intimately and desires a relationship with us.
I was hit by this truth later at summer camp, when the Spirit made me truly believe that God cares about every little detail in our life. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” God created the stars and put the earth in motion. He knew exactly which stars we would see and when we would live. He puts each person and event, even the small moments, like a hug from a friend or a beautiful ray of sunshine in the afternoon, in our lives purposely. Nothing escapes his notice. “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:3-5) It is amazing to think that he made each of us differently, with unique lives and circumstances, and yet he is ultimately in control. I cannot wrap my mind around it.
Flash forward to my third month in college. I have just finished a conversation with a friend I have been praying for from the first day I met. I have been waiting on the Lord, trusting for his promised salvation. I crave the faith that Abraham had, “when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going…For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8, 10) He waited for the promised son for twenty five years. I have been waiting to see my friend’s salvation for three months, and I wrestle with discouragement. But God has been showing me something greater.
I thought I had learned a lot about God’s love on my missions trip, but I have learned even more in the three months that I have been in college. God calls us to love the people that will never love us back, or who cannot love us the way we love them. Even when those people hurt us when we are trying to be an example of Christ to them, we are still to love them. I have found that while it is hard to love those people, it is nearly impossible not to. This is a supernatural love from the Spirit. I have felt such a burden as this for several people, but three stand out in my memory. One of those, and the one I am closest to has never really experienced unconditional love.
For the past two days I have felt a greater pain because of the sin of someone else and a greater burden for that person’s salvation than I have ever felt in my life. It hurts, but it is a hurt filled with hope. My efforts will not save this person, but God is still using me. As he is using me, he is revealing to me his love. Not only does he love this person more than I do, he loves everyone with this type of love. I am astounded at the love Christ felt when he went to the cross. Did he cry when he was being nailed to the tree? I believe he did, not just because of the physical pain, but because his heart was broken for the people he saw. In the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed for those who would come to know him. In the darkest moment on the cross, Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) He was not just asking for those mocking him at the cross, but for every person who mocks the love of the Savior. For every person who has let their heart be hardened to God’s unconditional love, Jesus asks forgiveness. That is incredible love, and it brings me to my knees. It comforts me and strengthens my faith.
At a time in my life, especially in my faith, where it looks like I should be under extreme pressure in stress, I feel more peace and love than I have ever known. Yes, I struggle. Yes, I feel pain, but hallelujah! I feel the love of my Savior. This is how I know that though my circumstances look bleak and the future is uncertain, I can rest in my God. He is my rock and my refuge. He is my ever-present help in time of need.
that I shall look upon
the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.”