So Loved?

Most of us are very familiar with John 3:16For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son . . .  We’ve always been taught (rightfully so) that this refers to God loving every human being, even the ones who will never believe and receive what He did for us all.  But another verse made me consider this love in an additional way.

Hebrews 12:2 NIV  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

As I read these words more carefully than normal, I pondered in a different way the joy that was set before Jesus.  Jesus had great joy in doing His Father’s will1, regardless of the personal cost to Him.  In the case of the Hebrews verse, was it because He so loved us?  Certainly He did.  In addition, however, I believe that Jesus so loved His Father – our Father – and wanted to complete His joy.  Knowing how much His Father loves us all, and His joy in our unbroken fellowship with Him, Jesus willingly endured the cross to complete His Father’s joy.

Yes, we were definitely an integral part of the joy set before Jesus.  But I believe the other component was the much greater.  The Father’s joy at our reconciliation and restoration to Him was the joy Jesus could see.  His Father’s joy.  Jesus so loved His Father!  His Father so loved us . . .

So loved!

 

1 Remember the story of the woman at the well.  When the disciples came back with much-needed food, Jesus was no longer hungry . . . because He was full from doing the Father’s will.

Follow the Tears

Why can’t I remember which song so moved me in worship that tears of joy streamed down my cheeks?  I thought I’d never forget!  Though sung in Hebrew, I joined in one accord in the Spirit with my brothers and sisters that Saturday morning.  Because of Who my God is, my heart overflowed.  Because He’s given me His heart for the body of Christ all over the world, I praised and worshipped Him.  Because He allows me not only to pray for, but go to them, my thankful heart could not be contained.

I was in Israel, worshipping with a wonderful Messianic congregation on this Saturday morning in their Shabbat service.  It just seemed too good to be true.  How many years had I prayed for this very congregation as a whole, and for many of the individuals, specifically?  But God!  My awesome God had made the way for me to be here with them in the natural, and the joyful tears of worship continued unabated.

In these moments, He gently reminded me of another Saturday, and of the tears that had flowed that day.  Was it really only the week before?  Had it really looked so bleak in those moments that I thought it almost impossible that I would be here a week later?  Those tears were so full of fear and disappointment – without hope.  The illness I’d been fighting for some time still had me firmly in its grasp, and I wasn’t sure I could physically handle the long flight and the exertion required on the tour once in Israel.  I was ready to give up after all these months of planning and preparing.

Holy Spirit ministered to me as I worshipped with tears of joy in Israel; likewise, He ministered when the tears were without hope in Him.  Both times, He enveloped me in the love of my Abba, Daddy, but the effect was different.  In one, He loved me away from focusing on my circumstances, then reminded me that He had called me to Israel at this specific time.  In the other, He simply immersed me in wave upon wave of His amazing love and goodness when my focus was already on Jesus Christ, my Hope.

Oh, the difference a week makes!  Rather, it’s the difference a focus makes.  That’s why the Bible tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus.  To think, I almost missed an experience with tears of joy in the Lord by succumbing to tears of hopelessness – all because I had lost my focus.

Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV  2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Forever Remembered

Another year has come and gone since Nathan left us to enjoy the absolute freedom, peace, health, joy, constant awareness of Jesus Christ, and . . .  We who remain on earth have moved on to different seasons in our lives, as is right.  There’s even another little brother in Nathan’s family now.  While the rawness of our loss (not his!) has greatly subsided, and even our thoughts of him aren’t as constant as they once were, Nathan Tyler Dawson will be forever remembered.  The memories now come with more smiles than tears, and the thought of how he must be blessing friends and loved ones who are with him in heaven brings much joy to my heart.

Time has a way of fading some of our memories, but certain people and moments in our memory banks remain as vivid today as if we were just experiencing life with them.  Nathan is one of those people for me, though I only knew him in person when he was 5 and 6.  How blessed and thankful I am that the Lord saw fit to let my life intersect with his, even for that relatively short time.  I’d rather have known him, despite the many tears when he left, than never to have had him in my life.

I am forever remembering Nathan with joy!

For more about Nathan, see My Tribute, posted February 18, 2009.