A dear friend of mine was born in Egypt and grew up in a Muslim family. One of the things I love most about her is the joy she finds in all of life. I’ll call her Joyful. Her Love Encounter inspires me and she’s allowed me to share it.
Joyful came to know Jesus personally through a radical encounter in an open vision of seeing Jesus in her room. It was life altering for her.
Joyful was Muslim and when her husband chose to follow Christ, she was prepared to divorce him. She knew what it meant to her family. But as he and others fasted and prayed for her, she went through a myriad of emotions. When Jesus encountered her, she said Yes to following Him no matter the cost. Her cost has been high. Both she and her husband have been banished from their extended families. They have changed their names to provide safety for their children. They have gone through financial and physical disasters and Joyful continues to have joy. Most of her texts to me call me dear and love. She finds the good when things look impossible. This is a display of the kingdom of God. She allows the suffering in her life to bring her to rely more fully on the One her gives her true life. It’s stunning to watch.
I have permission from my husband to tell you his Love Encounter. Like Joyful, Gary had a radical encounter of Jesus revealing Himself one night in his bedroom. As a child, he’d gone to church with his family and as a teenager, he became hungry to really know God. His parents were getting divorced when his brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. Although he was devastated, the encounter he had with God right before this gave him the courage to trust and not lean to his own understanding. His life with God has continued to give him a steadfast assurance in many of life’s bummer days. I’ve been married to him for 37 years and most weekday mornings he’s up at 4:00 to spend time with his God. He too, has allowed the tough things in his life to bring him to rely more fully on the One who gives true life.
It seems to me that believers in Jesus, who come to Him because of a love encounter, are unshakable in their faith.
Joyful found her parents’ religion made her a human doing and was based on her efforts. Choosing the relational love of Jesus gave her freedom as a human being and was based on what He had done for her.
I came to know Jesus though a lot of teaching and learning about Him. I’m grateful for all of it. I also pray to experience Him more. There is a difference between knowing someone loves you and experiencing that love in a deeply personal way. Knowing God intellectually doesn’t change us much.
Love changes us. Our God-love towards others can change them. Love dies to self to bring an opportunity for true life to others.
Jesus not only said it, He lived it. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Love like that is beyond the natural realm. That’s the greatness about Easter.
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