It was after our choir had done the musical Somebody’s Praying You Through that our music minister told me he had picked out a new song for me to learn. It was called Jesus, I Love You: written by Norman Hutchins and performed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
I learned the song, concentrating on the notes and I, of course, learned the lyrics. The first time I sang it during worship I had no problem with it. But in choir practice a few weeks later, as we went over the song again, the words really got to me. I couldn’t sing it for sobbing. And when we would present the song for worship, I couldn’t get through it. I would get to a certain point and then couldn’t finish it.
Joy of my salvation
Peace in my storm
Loving arms protect me
Shelter from harm
My strong tower
My dearest and best friend
I had no problem with these descriptions of Jesus. My hang up was with the line that proclaimed Jesus as my everything. People would ask me, “Amanda, what is it about the song that makes you cry?” I would tell them, “If I were to sit down and write a love letter to Jesus, it’s exactly what I would say.” But now, just being as real and honest as I can be, I knew deep down that wasn’t the truth. And God knew it, too.
You see, there were parts of my life that I welcomed Jesus in willingly, invitingly. But then there were other areas in my life that I would wave Jesus away and say, “That’s okay. I don’t want to bother You. I can handle it.”
Until September of 2013, then I realized that I didn’t have it by myself and that I did need Jesus present and powerful in every part of my life. During these last three years, He has been
there when I was lonely,
there in all my pain,
guiding my footsteps,
shelter from the rain.
And it was Him, He has made my life complete.
He is to me my everything and that is why I sing.
During the vamp of the song, the lyrics talk about not being ashamed to tell the world. Now that sounds a lot like evangelism. Evangelism, I thought up until this past year, was for other people. Well, in 2016 I have gone on two mission trips: one to Nashville, TN and the other to New Milton, England.
Was way out of my comfort zone, let me tell you. Half way over the Atlantic, the pilot throttled back on the engines. I punched the GPS on in the back of the headrest of the seat in front of me to see how much longer we had to fly. Oh, gee, only about another four hours. Um, Mr. Pilot, are we gonna make it to England? Hhhmmm? Please. Closer to God up in a plane, I guess. Prayers were flying around up there, I can assure you.
On English ground, I met many lovely people, all with hearts focused on God. I found myself opening up and telling my story, from my beginning salvation to my present walk. They responded with warmth, thanked me for my testimony, and wished me the best. I’ll always treasure my visit there.
Another adlib in the song praises Jesus with
How You set me free!
Isn’t that the truth?! I am free! As much as I loved my earlier life, I would not want to go back there. The only one I need to please is Him. Which if each of us would make that our priority, this dark world would be a whole lot brighter. Will I cry the next time I sing it? Well, we’ll all find out together. So,
Jesus, I love You. I couldn’t imagine if you were not there.
Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.