I love that Matthew closes out his gospel account with this statement from Jesus, "And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." -Matt. 28:20b- NLT1 That is love. Not only did Jesus come down to earth to live and die and live again, but He will never, ever leave us.
Quite a few years have passed since I was a preschool teacher. One afternoon I was with one of my sweet 2 1/2 year olds waiting for his mom to arrive. He was the last to leave that day and I learned that he thought I lived at the school. My response to him was how lonely I would be if I stayed there after everyone else had left and I have never forgotten what he said, "Miss Debra, Jesus is always with you. You would not be alone." His words come back to me often.
They have rung true when I spent a dark night pleading with God for the life of my brother whose cancer had spread to his liver. I desperately wanted assurance that I should pray for healing and get it and instead God took me to Revelation 21: 1-5, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.'
I knew as soon as I read those words that my hope for Jeff did not lay in an earthly healing. God had lessons to teach me about this world not being my home. He had lessons to teach me about how through it all He would never leave me.
They have rung true when on another dark night, after the death of yet another loved one I pleaded with God just to know that He loved me. I looked up through tear-filled eyes from my place as a passenger in the car to see a billboard that read, "I love you, and you, and you...God." Even in a time of my greatest doubts He was with me and he knew exactly what I needed to hear. And somehow He even arranged for a billboard to be in just the right place, at just the right time for me to see it when I needed it most.
At the lowest points in my life God has been with me. When I have been unkind and unloving, He has been there. When I have sat on the heights and taken in the wonders of His creation, He has been there too. In all of the good, the bad, and the ugly that has made up my life, He has always been with me. Now that is love! There is not a thing I can do to chase Him away. That is His promise to me. That is His promise to you.
Grace, Peace, and Mercy,