Pastor Robinson walked back and forth in his study, and then stood for a moment by the window. A light snowfall had whitened the world outside, but the pastor hardly noticed. His thoughts were with his people. He had been their pastor for three years. He had preached and prayed and had done all he could. He knew there were definite needs among his people, but for some reason he hadn't been able to reach their hearts. The thought came to him there by the window, "If only they could understand how much God loves them. God's love--that's it! I'll preach on John 3:16."
All week he worked on his sermon. He prayed, "Please God, make a breakthrough." Later as the pastor stood in the foyer and greeted his parishioners, he smiled and spoke to each one, but his heart was still heavy. He was preoccupied with his sermon. "If only I had an illustration of love that everyone could understand," he mused.
Just then the pastor noticed the Smith family, a young couple with two children. He watched as they came in. Maybe somehow here was the illustration he needed. Baby Kathy was just six months old and looked like a doll with her beautiful smiling face. The pastor walked over to the mother and asked her if he could use Kathy as a sermon illustration that morning? The young mother nodded in agreement, then joined her family for the worship service. After the special music Pastor Robinson stood up to speak. "I wonder how many of us have the joy of knowing we are loved? I have something to show you if you will just wait a moment." He left the platform and returned a moment later with the happy baby. He asked, "Do you think little Kathy knows she is loved? How could anyone not love such a happy little girl?"
Down in the congregation the eyes of a five-year-old brother lit up when he saw his baby sister with the pastor. Love was in his eyes, but nobody noticed. All eyes were on the baby. The pastor said, "How would you like to take this precious bundle of joy home with you today?" "No," came an immediate cry from the audience. All attention suddenly shifted from the minister to a small boy running down the aisle. He climbed the steps to the platform as quickly as he could, and put himself right in front of the minister. The eyes of the little boy were filled with fear. "No," he repeated, "if you have to give someone away, take me. She needs mommy and daddy. Please," he pleaded, as tears filled his eyes and his little chin trembled, "she's my little sister and I love her." He reached up and touched her pudgy legs, then buried his face against her and sobbed.
In the congregation the young mother and father could not believe their eyes. She leaned her head against his and began to cry softly. Here and there people were wiping their eyes as tears trickled down their faces. The pastor was speechless. He hadn't meant to frighten the boy. Tears were now running down the pastor's cheeks as well. An usher offered to take the baby back to her parents. The pastor finally got control of himself and stepped to the pulpit. In trembling voice he said, "Oh, if only you knew how much God loves you."
Slowly an elderly man, for whom the church had prayed for years, made his way to the altar with tears in his eyes. Next came Beth, a teenager who had sent her mom to bed in tears many a night. Others followed, while in the back of the church a little boy wiped away his tears and smiled at his baby sister as she reached down to pat his cheek softly.
Yes, love was there--the whole church was filled with it!
Jesus is like that little boy. He doesn't want
anything to happen to even one of His precious children. So He freely gave
Himself to save you and me. Now, that is real love straight from heaven!
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