When I was a little girl, I had this fuzzy sleeping gown covered with either ducks or chickens. I can see it in my mind’s eye as I write, but my mental vision has gone a little blurry, like Christmas lights through unfocused eyes. My bed was a heavy, antique wooden structure with four curvy posts and a lacy comforter. Every night as I scooted under the covers, my parents read to me from my graphic-novel Bible, and my dad, positioned at the foot of my bed, sang “Jesus Loves Me” with his hands protectively resting on my little, crossed ankles. I grew up knowing I had a Guardian out there somewhere who looked on me with kindness and affection—my square one as I learned about Jesus’s love. I started with “the Bible tells me so” because in my cute poultry sleeping gown, I didn’t yet know the love of Jesus. I knew how to obey my parents, sing choruses, and retell Bible stories ad nauseum, but as Jesus says in Matthew, “Whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love” (Luke 7:47b, NIV).
Then I grew up. And as we usually do when we grow up, I started making mistakes. I lost sight of the sweetness of a relationship with Jesus. I spiritually expressed my adulthood and independence by employing what Daniel Henderson calls “Christian autopilot.” Rather than talking to God and ardently seeking his face, I checked in when things felt difficult but otherwise lived a mostly clean life on my own, going to church on Sundays and name-dropping “God” whenever appropriate. I was devoutly serious about my faith, but not necessarily about my relationship with Jesus (although for a long time I convinced myself that those were synonymous). That worked just fine until the broken dreams and failure of an ended marriage hit me face-on. I might as well have been back in my sleeping gown on the floor of my pink bedroom for all the smallness I felt. But let me tell you a little bit about the love of my Jesus.
When you mess up everything in your life so profoundly that you have trouble keeping your eyes dry, Jesus doesn’t leave. Even if you’re somewhat—or completely—to blame. Even if you spend months resisting Him. Even if you do what He directly asks you not to do. He still doesn’t leave. He has seen what you do, but he heals you anyway (Isaiah 57:18). He leads you along…with kindness and love and stoops down tenderly to care for you (Hosea 11:4). He sends out His word to you and heals you (Psalm 107:20). He forgives all the smut that originated with or in you (Luke 7:48 and all the Gospels). In love and mercy, He redeems you (Isaiah 63:9). He erases your sins…and never thinks of them again (Isaiah 43:25). He restores your joy (Psalm 51:8, 12). He looks down at His palms where He has written your name (Isaiah 49:16).
Who does that? Who else not only listens but actually longs to listen to you for as long as you’re willing to talk? Who else floods your life with so much grace you practically drown in it? Who else speaks so deeply to your heart that you feel His words? Who else heals, not just mends, your broken heart? Who else keeps track of every tear that falls (Psalm 56:8)? Who else forgives you before you ask? Who else sees your heart in its entirety and loves you regardless? Who else wants to hear the banal details of your day, even though He was there, just so He can see them through your eyes? Who does that but Jesus?
The most rewarding relationships I enjoy—and all of the best people in the world happen to be in my life—are all to a certain point limited because they are human, but that is not so with Jesus. Jesus’s love extends beyond human capability, beyond human reason, to remind me every minute of every day that I am just as precious to Him—my broken, inexplicable, sinful self is just as precious to Him—as the little girl in the ducks-or-chickens sleeping gown is to her parents. And infinitely, infinitely more. Infinitely more. Because nothing—not death, life, angels, demons, fears, worries, present things, future things, my own darkness, or darkness stretching toward me from hell—nothing can ever, ever separate me from the love of my treasured Redeemer (Romans 8:38, 39). Who else loves like that but Jesus?