“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
One of the great truths of the Christian faith is that God speaks to the person who cares to listen to Him. The Bible says that if we shall seek the Lord, we shall find Him. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
Sadly, many do not seek the Lord. They have no desire to come to Church. They are not interested in studying the Bible. They do not pray. This is why God must appear to us. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we run from God. But the love of God will not let us go.
God comes and appears to us and says, “I have loved you.”
When did God first begin to love us?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love,” says the Lord.
An everlasting love is a love that was in the heart of God before the sun, moon, and stars came into existence. An everlasting love is a love that will never stop loving. Sometime we stop loving one another. When we are offended. When someone hurts us, we stop loving them. But God’s love is an everlasting love. There is no sin too great for the grace of God. There is no sin so deep that the love of God is not deeper still. The love of God will never let us go.
Some years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole that was behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. In the house, his mother was looking out the window. She saw the two as they got closer and closer together.
In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed, and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms, just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began a very incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim, and shot the alligator.
Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. On his arms, there were deep scratches where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.
The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked the boy if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. Then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom would not let go.”
You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past, or the scares of pain and suffering unwanted and unexpected.
Some of those scars are unsightly, and have caused us deep regret.
But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go.
During your struggle, the Lord has been right there, holding on to you.
“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore, with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).
“The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.”
Now the question comes.Has God appeared to you?
By faith, have you met with God, as Moses met with Him at the burning bush?
By faith, have you met with God, as Jacob did in the middle of the night?
By faith, has God appeared to you, as He appeared to Abraham when the sun was setting?
What does God do when He appears to us?
First, God draws us to see that we have sinned.
Perhaps we have lied, cheated, or desired to have something God does not want us to have. The Bible says that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The grace of God causes us to see our sin.
Second, God draws us to the gospel. It is no accident that you are in this place.
God has drawn you here. Yes, you heard about the meeting and you wanted to come, but from heaven’s point of view, you are here because you were drawn by the Father. God has something He wants you to hear.
Third, God draws us to His Son.
When Jesus was baptized, there was a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). One reason why the Father was well pleased with Jesus is because He obeyed Him, even unto death. Jesus came to die for your sins and mine. Jesus came to offer Himself as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.
Fourth, God draw us to Calvary.
Calvary is a place outside of Jerusalem.
Calvary is a place of death.
Calvary is the place where Jesus was crucified.
Calvary is the place where Jesus was made an atonement for sin.
Calvary is the place where the victory was won, and Jesus cried out, “It is finished!”
Has God appeared to you. Have you been drawn to Calvary?
“I’ve been to Calvary
I can say I’ve seen the Lord
I’ve been to Calvary
Through the witness of His word
Each day at Calvary
What a thrill of love divine
Just to know that the Savior in mine.”
Sometimes, it is hard to fully understand the loving sacrifice Jesus made of Himself, until we see it illustrated in a personal way.
I have seen sacrificial love.
I tell you a true story about a little girl named Paula Brown.
She died on October 27, 1994, in a tragic fire. Paula was only four years of age. Those of us who knew her, even briefly, perceived that Paula possessed maturity beyond her years. In the final moments of her life, Paula demonstrated the greatest virtues of a tender heart: wisdom, courage, compassion, and love. Paula was the first to realize that something was terribly wrong. There was a fire in the house. She must tell grandfather.
she cried aloud.
“We must do something about this fire!”
Her young voice was pleading. When her grandfather awoke, he heard Paula’s warning, and escaped the consuming flames by climbing out a window and onto the roof.
In the flight from danger, there was no hope of rescuing the other children caught up in the sweeping inferno. Still, without thought for her own safety, Paula broke away from the security of her grandfather’s arms, and returned into the house now ablaze. She was in search of her three younger sisters, Marissa and Aleesha, twins, age two, and Claudia, age one. Paula knew her sisters were too young to flee from danger, so she attempted to rescue them herself.
In that single, desperate, heroic act—Paula perished. She laid down her life to save her grandfather, and tried to save her sisters. Paula’s burnt remains were found the next day.
We can all hope that Paula did not have to suffer long. I am confident that holy angels swept down to carry her soul, and that of her sisters, into the presence of the Creator.
“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee.”
While there is nothing that can really be said to ease the terrible suffering of the loss of one’s children, something should be said on behalf of a child who loved others more than herself.
We are living in a very violent society.
The news each day is a steady diet of kidnapping, murder, rape, drive-by shootings, muggings, and robberies.
Little Paula reminds all of us that we do not have to hurt each other.
We can care enough, not only to be kind, but also to give our lives so that others may live.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Jesus laid down His life for you, and me.
In Paula, the world can see Christ, the Holy Child.
And that is why Jesus said,
“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14).
Behold the love of God.
The drawing of which Jeremiah speaks is a divine drawing.
“I have loved you…I have drawn you.”
The heart of the natural person is drawn away from God.
Sin draws a person away from Jesus, the Church, the Bible, and praying to God.
The world draws the soul away from that which is good, decent, and holy.
The devil draws the thoughts of people from God, to the point that some deny God exists.
But God has said, “I will love you. I will draw you.”
God will draw an individual to Jesus, so they will be saved from the penalty of sin, which is death.
God will draw an individual to Jesus, so they will be cleansed from the pollution of sin, its shame and guilt.
God will draw an individual to Jesus, so they will go to heaven when they die, and spend eternity with Him in close fellowship.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
May God draw each person here to Himself, for our good, and His glory. Amen.