Mom told a lot of crazy stories.
Honestly, some were just too fantastical to be believed. Growing up, I’d teeter on the edge of wonderment and awe at the prospect of mountains so high they could be mistaken for clouds. I’d listen with my mouth agape as I heard of lakes so vast that no one could see the other side, not even on the clearest of days… But then I’d look at our lakes (or “ponds” as Mom called them) cloistered in our Appalachia foothills, and I’d think that there just wasn’t any way. How could a lake just keep going on and on? Mom had to be exaggerating.
But here’s the thing, Mom never exaggerated.
That was one of the most amazing things about her. Every day, she strove with her whole heart to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. As a result, she was right way too often for my tastes during my teenage years. It was hard to argue and rebel against someone who never spoke up unless she could speak with honesty and conviction.
When a person of integrity speaks, it’s hard not to listen. As fantastical as a story may be, if the person telling the tale is trustworthy, we have to give their account at least some consideration.
That was the position I found myself in at roughly the age of fifteen. At that point, the whole idea of an infinitely loving God was hard to imagine. Love without bounds? That was even harder to imagine than a lake without an opposite shore.
Turn on the news, and the brokenness, hatred, and fear that permeates the globe is just too visible. In hems us in and curtails our hopes. Our collective pain, mine included, forms such an impossible mountain prison that I couldn’t imagine any force so powerful that it could scale those walls.
The idea of God was a wonderful story, but it seemed too impossible, too crazy, and just too fantastical to be believed.
Yet Mom held firm: there was a God. Whether or not I chose to believe in him, he believed in me. He loved me so much he died for me, by name, as if I was the only one in all of creation who needed saving. He loved me that much, and he’d do it all again for me if he had too.
As I did with all her most fantastic stories, I teetered on the edge of disbelief… until I asked one very loaded question: how did she know? I mean, how could she possibly be so sure? How could she know for a fact that such a supernatural being existed, and how could she know that he loved us?
More than all her crazy stories combined, I couldn’t believe her answer to that one question.
With eyes that sparkled and a warm smile that sweetly, gently defused across her face, she looked at me and simply said, “Because I know him.”
In Jeremiah 29:13, God tells us that we will seek him and find him if we seek him with our whole hearts. It’s a promise that’s echoed throughout the Bible. He who seeks, finds. In so many ways, such a promise is too wondrous to comprehend.
The invitation to know God is so fantastical that we often hesitate. What could it possibly be like to know God? How is that even possible? And yet, if we read his own words in the Bible, there is his open invitation and his promise. We can actually know him for ourselves.
As impossible as that sounded to my teenage ears, because that message came from the one person on earth I trusted most, I took a chance. I started seeking, and God always keeps his promises.
I met God for myself. It is still a mystery to me how he does it, yet when we knock, God never fails to open the door. He always, always, invites us in to spend eternity as his own dearly loved children. It’s a miracle that has to be seen to be believed, like a lake without end.
When I went to Chicago for a conference, I had to take a moment to go see that lake for myself, but then, of course, I knew what I would see. I knew because my mom had seen it, and she told me all about it years ago. I trust her now more than ever.
The view is indeed spectacular. The lake is limitless as far as my eye can see. But once again, looking at that expanse of bright clear waves, I found myself believing in something that I have not seen. And I’m not just talking about the opposite shore of Lake Michigan.
Mom went to be with Jesus a couple months ago. It’s taken me a while to be able to open up and write about this. It hurts not having this amazing woman here by my side, but I’m comforted by something truly amazing. It’s crazy, and in so many ways too fantastical to be believed, but I know I will be seeing her again soon. I know it, because Jesus said so.
Jesus died for us and went ahead to make a place for us, so that where he is, we can be also. Jesus said so (see John 14:1-3). As God made flesh, he was the only human being who always spoke with absolute truth. So now I know. Someday, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can all be together forever, united in perfect love. No fear. No death. Every tear will be wiped away. All who believe in him will not truly perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). This is not the end. God is in the process of making all things new.
So now, an impossible expanse separates me and the Mom I love, but I know that I know that I know that there is an opposite shore. Jesus has built a home for us there. I know, even though I have not seen it. The Jesus who I trust said it is so, and now the woman who first taught me to believe him has indeed had her faith made sight. She is there in heaven, seeing her mansion with her own eyes, and enjoying a life free of pain. And someday, I will see it too.
It’s not crazy. God’s love knows no bounds. That is why neither death nor life nor angles nor demons can separate us from the love of God (see Romans 8:38-39). His love is truly the only thing in this world without limits.
His love is boundless, without end, and his invitation is simply this: come and know him.
Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but thankfully you don’t have to take me at my word. I invite you to come and seek him for yourself. I promise, at the end of your journey, you’ll see just how wide, how long, how deep, and how high is the Love of God. The view is spectacular. Come and see.
For more information on how to start your journey, check out http://peacewithgod.net/