Tell Them I Love Them

"They shall all know me. From the least of them to the greatest."

Writing is a lot like fishing. I troll through my library, pick a book and cast through it. Often something catches my eye, sparks a thought and a weekly column begins to take shape.

Now any of you who have been fishing know you can go a long time between bites. An occasional nibble promises something, but then disappointment. Sometimes you don't even get a nibble. You might as well be fishing in a dirty swimming pool.

Sometimes writing is like that. Like today. I have spent the last few hours searching among books, reading scripture, even looking at old sermons. Whenever I reach this writer's block Leslie always offers the same suggestion. "Just republish something you did last year or the year before. It's not like they're going to notice." While she's probably right, that's still a little deflating. Besides you have to be careful about re-serving old sermons. They can make listeners sick. Sermonella. Try as I might I cannot channel my inner Philip Yancey.

So I prayed. "God what do people need to hear from you tomorrow? What word from you would make a difference in their day?" The answer was simple and clear: "Just tell them I love them."

The great human doubt concerns companionship, We wonder very deeply if we are alone in the universe or if there is Someone or Something out there that knows us and might perhaps even care. Atheist arguments can be very clever and seem to be less caustic than formerly. In addition to the improvement in marketing the atheist always has a prime facie case on his side and doubt becomes almost an inevitability. At least at some point.

I always thought it ironic that on the famed "Altar to the Unknown God" in Athens there was…nothing. Empty. Lack of certainty. It was a tacit Greek admission that "we really are not too sure about a lot of this." At the very least they bequeathed to modern agnostics an altar, The word "unknown" comes from the same word as agnostic. A constant line of people trudge by for centuries. "Is anyone there? I didn't think so." You may have been in that number.

Yet to the listening ear a different song sounds. I write carefully these next lines wanting to avoid the appearance of trying to impress, but I can say honestly I have not struggled with doubt for longer than I can recall. Please believe me that I am not puffing myself up. I'm not boasting of a great faith. I don't think in those terms. I'm amazed by a small faith in a great God, a mustard seed faith that God can use to do wondrous things.

When I think about doubting God I liken it to one of my children saying "you don't love me, and you never have loved me." I haven't dealt with this for a long time but whenever it rose up in any form I frankly had a hard time taking it seriously. I do love them and am still astounded by the depth of that love. In fact, I don't just love them, I like them. I enjoy being around them, hearing about their days, their plans, their insights. Plus they live in an house/apartment I provide, eat food their mother buys and cooks, watch televisions and play video games I have provided, drive cars that are in my name, and well…you get the picture.

Frankly, much doubt is childish. It boils down to not getting one's way in some particular. I wonder deeply about providence. I puzzle over grace, I'm staggered by forgiveness. But that God loves me? I accept that as more real than the next breath I take. I never doubt it.

And neither should you.

The apex of Jeremiah's grand prophecy is in chapter 31. The background could not be more dismal. The exile had torn the people away from their land. Jerusalem lay in ashes. And most staggeringly The Temple, THE TEMPLE OF THE ONE TRUE GOD, was smashed to bits. Talk about a crisis of faith.

Yet there was Jeremiah, holding forth for God, "they shall know Me. From the least of them to the greatest.'

I shudder to think about the burdens you face today. Life can be cruel and hard. No one knows what this Monday will bring. But this I do know: You are not alone. There is a God that created the universe, with all its infinite wonders and life in all its endless variety. He created you to live, to laugh, to love. He delights in you, and wants nothing more than for
you to hear His assuring words: "I love you."


Dr. Terry Ellis

September 15, 2012