This is almost a transcript of what I said in the book recommendation last Sunday on Zoom, adding a bit more explanation on the illustration from my personal experience.
I learnt that Jesus loves me and cares for me since I first got to know about Christianity. But my understanding of God’s love was influenced by how I was loved and cared for before I became a Christian, largely by my parents. Our international friends all know my parents quite well, especially my mother. She’s a good specimen of a human being, full of anecdotes. My parents’ love language is quite unique (or maybe you can relate). They often show their love and concern by speaking or looking extremely annoyed. I didn’t quite get they were loving me until many years later.
For example, if I fell off my bike, they would say, ‘WHY did you do that?’ as if I willed my finger swollen on purpose. They’d look after me, take me to hospital or do anything to fix me, but their facial expressions and verbal responses always made me feel that they were saying, ‘I had a busy day already, you just made it worse’. I felt like a burden when I needed their help or comfort.
When I was about four or five, we lived in one of those old-fashioned courtyard houses in Beijing. We had a folding table. It was like a giant folding stool, with a round top and an X-shape structure to support it. I don’t know why I was sitting on top of the table but there I was, sitting on the table minding my own business, when suddenly the table split in two right in the middle and collapsed. Obviously it made a racket and my parents found me in the ruins. I wasn’t crying and the first thing I said was ‘I’m OK I’m OK’. My mother found my reaction adorable and liked telling this story. I wasn’t blowing kisses and trying to get out of trouble. I was worried, if I hurt myself, they would tell me off. I was more bothered by becoming a nuisance than feeling the shock of landing on the floor.
I don’t think for one minute my parents were awful parents, they were doing it all for the first time. If I can say so myself, I think they did a decent job. And they didn’t know Jesus’ love to demonstrate that love to me.
This book reminds us that thankfully and wonderfully, Jesus’ love is nothing like that.
For example, when we come to “Jesus for help in our need and for mercy amid our sins”, his heart “is not drained by our coming to him; his heart is filled up all the more” (p38). Jesus is full of mercy, grace and comfort and never gets tired of us asking for help and he loves it. I don’t need to worry about Jesus fed up with me saying ‘you again, what now’ or sitting in a coffee shop for too long and the staff looking at me thinking ‘you’ve been here long enough’ unless I buy another coffee.
Jesus is always pleased to see me, even when I need help and comfort again and again, even when I spend all my day in his presence, he won’t find me a burden, he loves it. The king of the universe is always pleased to see me. That’s a great privilege and comfort.
I also love the two chapters on Jesus our intercessor and advocate. Jesus is interceding for us this very moment, whatever we’re doing. Jesus constantly prays for us and speaks on our behalf in the presence of the Father. I don’t even pray for myself as much as I should, but Jesus always prays for me. Just imagine hearing Jesus praying for you next door. And when we sin, Jesus advocates for us. We don’t need to defend ourselves, saying ‘it’s not my fault’, or ‘I didn’t do it on purpose’. Jesus says, I know what you did, but I’ll defend you, you just come to me. That just makes me grateful, humble and confident all at the same time.
In addition to the book, Crossway produced a 14-day podcast series, basically a shortened version of the book in an audio book. You can find it free on Spotify.