I cry so easy. I probably have freaked out every person who loves me or has seen me breakdown. My tears flow like the busted pipes in the city streets of Saint Louis. It never takes much–tired, angry, frustrated, sick, lonely, ashamed; sad commercial, sappy movie, kids performing–I cry about everything.
This latest set of tears are my favorite tears. These are tears of gratitude.
People will tell you a thousand stories about getting saved: where they were, how old they were, who was there, the title of the sermon, all that. I have my “confession date” written down, too, just like everyone else. It can sometimes be like reading a magical realism story, where this unrealistic change engulfs an ordinary moment in fairy dust and grandiose delusions.
People pinpoint an intangible but very real spiritual experience as the beginning of the end of everything bad and wrong. All that is left is to die and go to heaven. This world is not their home. Heaven is the goal. And in some ways, this is my story, too.
Except it is not.
Yes, I am totally down for going to heaven; I cannot wait to be totally one with God and know everything He knows and worship at the throne with the angels and the 24 elders. But the tears I cry now are for a different kind of salvation.
A year ago, I took a challenge issued by a pastor I follow on social media. He said that every day, we should look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “God’s love is for me”. We had to say it with emphasis on a different word each time, over and over. God’s love is for ME. God’s love is FOR me. God’s love IS for me. God’s LOVE is for me. GOD’S love is for me.
So I did it, all the while looking up and reading all these scriptures about how much God loves me, how particularly fond of me He was. I know that sounds silly to the average person; most Christians probably think I am crazy too.
But let me tell you something. I actually began to feel loved. Not some silly emotional thing–I actually felt enveloped in a never-ending hug. All the holes in my soul from rejection, fear, depression, shame, and everything else I had experienced started filling up with undeniable completeness. I knew at that moment that if I ever felt unloved or lonely or rejected, it was literally because I was willingly choosing to do so. It had been cleared up for all time: God’s Love WAS For Me. And that was all that I needed.
Many people think that salvation is just about getting a pass into heaven. And I guess that is part of it. But there is another part of the story that has not been told. A vast cloud of love lies waiting right behind the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s personal savior. There is a tangible shift into the wholeness that God intended when Jesus volunteered to be the final completed sacrifice. It is more than saying, “I want to go to heaven”–it is saying “I am eternally loved. God’s love is for me.” What I want more than anything is for people to know that love–not because I told them about it but because they experienced it for themselves.
Jesus’s death on the cross was the chorus to an eternal love song, his resurrection was the bridge. And one day, I will get to sing the end over and over again. But today, I get to sing the parts that I know in my spirit every time I shed these tears that come out of no where as I sit inside an everlasting hug and the knowledge that God’s love is for me.