Chris Tomlin has a new song called “Jesus Loves Me.” It’s not the children’s song- but the message is the same. It’s been on the radio a lot recently, and honestly, it didn’t really stand out to me at first. I thought it was “nice,” but it took a long ride home after a few very demanding weeks for the song to really sink in for me.
Here’s an acoustic version of the song:
It happened on road trip to Dallas to attend (and volunteer at) a conference. I was already worn out from an intense month with several big (at least, for us) events, the largest of which had just taken place in the days leading up to the conference. I arrived early and served as scheduled for the first day. I was thrilled when some of the staff & other volunteers remembered me by name! And I was floored when some of the attendees even remembered me from the year before. That first day went well, despite the busy-ness and little hiccups you encounter along the way, and I couldn’t help but feel good about it all afterwards. It was an encouraging start to what promised to be a wonderful few days.
Except for one thing. As the evening progressed, I realized that I wasn’t feeling good. I was coming down with a pretty nasty cold. I started to lose my voice. I was coughing and congested.
I was sick. But that was quickly becoming an understatement. I was miserable 🙁
I was miserable enough that the next morning I decided to leave early. I hate letting folks down, and I felt bad for backing out of my commitment. I even still felt that twinge of guilt for not being healed. I had also been looking forward to sitting in on some of the sessions and hearing certain speakers, and I was disappointed that I’d be missing out. Feeling a bit defeated, I turned on the radio and began the 5 hour drive back to Pineville.
Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me” song was played four times during that drive — on different Christian radio stations as I passed through different cities along the way. The first time, it kinda annoyed me. Yeah, of course I know Jesus loves me. Everyone knows that. How many times do we have to sing that phrase?
If you asked me if I believed that Jesus loved me, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say “Yes.” But what did that mean, really? In my mind, it was an absolute truth… but in a very generic, impersonal, “God so loved the world” way. It was “Jesus love me*” with an asterisk – a loaded footnote full of qualifications and terms and conditions and legalese fine print.
I believed that He loved me in the sense that he didn’t totally hate me. It wasn’t a warm fuzzy love… it was more of a distant love. He mostly tolerated me, though I imagined just barely at times. And on a day when I was driving home sick, run down, and having failed to fulfill my commitment… did Jesus love that? I didn’t think so.
But by the time I was hearing the song for the third time on that drive, the message was (finally) getting through and I was tearing up.
“Jesus, He loves me…” even when I’m sick, worn out, empty, and have nothing left to give.
“He loves ME…” not just what I can do. He doesn’t just love me when I’m accomplishing stuff or doing things right.
“He is for me…” even when I feel discouraged and alone.
“Jesus, How can it be?…” That was the question. How could it be true? How could He love me in my mess? In my failures?
“He loves me…” in a very personal, close-up, genuine, unconditional way. With no asterisks.
“He is for me…” even more than I could ever possibly comprehend…