Her name is “Lynn” and she is 14 years old. She was raised going to church most of the time. She goes to youth group activities, she has a teen Bible and she learned the books of the Bible at age five. She is an accomplished artist and creates beautiful dragons with deep, intelligent eyes. She has a heart for special needs kids. She is kind and funny and desperate to be loved.
Her mother began at an early age to make sure Lynn knew that she was not valuable. Her mother taught what she had learned from her own mother and as the years went on the message became clear: “No one loves like they love your brother. No one cares if you are here. In fact, you are only a burden to me.” Over and over it was proven through emotional and physical abuse. Her mother did not protect her from others in the home and Lynn believed the mantra that she was less. Her mother did not allow Lynn’s father to play much of a role in her life and told her that he did not want her and his family did not love or care about her.
And this is the hardest part for me about Lynn’s story because Lynn is my niece. She has been told so many lies about me and my love for her.
As Jesus is praying in John 17 I think he knew all the lies that had and would be told about Him.
His children are told that He does not care about them.
“As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us..”
His children are told that they are not wanted.
“Father, I desire that those also, who you have given me, may be with me where I am”
His children are told that they have no value and that they are not truly loved.
“…so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
On the night before Jesus gave His life for us, He is praying that we would know how much we are loved and be united in the knowledge that God’s greatest desire is for us to be with Him.
The world is so good at twisting that truth so that we cannot even see or believe that we have a God willing to give us his very self so we can know to whom we belong. God loves us with a deep and abiding passion. And there is nothing, nothing that can separate us from His love, not what we do, nor what has been done to us, not even what we have done to others. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus.
I need to hear that. Lynn needs to hear that. You need to hear that.
My niece and her dad (my brother) will come to live with me on Saturday. It is time for the truth of His love to set us free. Tomorrow is a new, unwritten day, and the day after that, and the day after that; a new chance to see and feel His great love and to rewrite the mantra of our lives.
I am loved. I am wanted. I matter.
Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:25-26)
Jennifer Porter Lubbock Texas Children’s Minister at the Broadway Church of Christ