By Melanie Mar Chow
How do we know Jesus loves us? Not just the ways the Bible tells us how much the Father loves us, how Jesus sacrificed his life for us as an act of love, or how we love because Jesus first loved us.
I have been considering this more and realize that people need to know about the powerful love of God in more tangible ways. As a campus minister, I am reminded by the honest cries of youth. One of the fears I hear from some students is that they fear isolation and worry about having enough money to have enough “stuff.” When people share their fears, we as God-followers have an opening to share with them about tangible ways that God loves them.
So what do I tell others about how I know God loves me? I tell them God must really love me because though I do feel isolated at times as a woman in ministry, He has provided ways to embrace my calling by connecting with other awesome women and men who serve — the great cloud of witnesses who have become community to me. This is why I’m grateful for AAWOL. God shows me what it takes to be loved in the provision of community, though I need to do my work to make community via connections.
How then would I testify to experiencing love, and alleviate worry about whether we will have enough “stuff”? One day as I was assessing my shopping list and balancing my checking account, I realized there was a desire to struggle and think that I do not have enough money, and to wish I could have something other than what I had. But as we are prompted by the faithful presence of the Holy Spirit as a demonstration of God’s love, we realize that God gives us what we need, not what we want. So equating that with God’s love, I prayerfully realigned my attitude to God’s ways on a recent shopping run to Target. For some reason, that day all the things on clearance were the things I needed — toothpaste, dish soap and paper towels. Weeks later, I was at the GAP and I found 5 shirts for $26.00. Was that coincidence? Actually, I only needed one shirt, and was able to find a very nice shirt for a friend’s birthday gift. God shows me love in financial ways. I also realized another side challenge is to give God praise and know that the hand- picked sale items were the answer to my prayers. So you might say, “Melanie, that is nice for you”, but know I have also seen this happen for my friends as well.
For instance, my friend told me recently that God’s love for her comes in reminding her to be in a receiving mode. When she went to the market to look for what she wanted for that evening’s dinner, she found a 5-lb package of cooked pasta on sale for $3.99. The amazing thing is that it was not just enough for that night’s dinner, but it was foundational for a great week of meals. She thankfully gave God praise but the following week found a surplus of 3 lbs each in a bag of spinach and ground beef for $5.00.
What ways have you experienced God’s love? Please share so we can readily answer future questions of how we know that Jesus loves us.
Rev. Melanie Mar Chow serves God through Asian American Christian Fellowship, the campus ministry division of the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society (JEMS). She has been an ordained American Baptist minister since 2004. A Pacific Northwest native, she currently lives with her husband and daughter in Southern California.