Experiencing Love



Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Ephesians 3:14–21

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Today, I’d like to begin with a personal story as we consider verses 18–19 of the Prayer for Union and Love in Ephesians 3:14–21.

Jesus drew me to himself in my high school years. I made a profession of faith, and I was touched deeply by the grace and love of God. But in my first year of university, I had a new, profound encounter with the love of God—one that has forever changed me.

I was home on break from university. I was sitting up on my bed, in the upstairs bedroom of my childhood home. I was struggling with the intellectual challenges to my growing faith that I was experiencing at Penn State University. Those challenges orbited around the readings and class discussions in my religion course. My professor was a former pastor and an avowed agnostic. I was in a state of spiritual distress—not caused particularly by him or by my classmates—but by my incessant mulling over the ideas we were exploring. It made my sleep restless, and I was preoccupied with my questions when awake.

I could not have put words to it then, but I was experiencing spiritual longing, an inner yearning that accompanied my inward turmoil. It was a longing for a new way of knowing God, a fullness of experience of his person, that was stronger than any I had ever known. It was like I was living out the words of Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” I know now that I was seeking a personal awakening.

As I sat on my bed, praying through my fragmented emotions, something happened. I can’t express the entire experience, but I will describe the best part of it. Imagine a swollen river of Jesus’s love for me, held back by a thick dam. Now imagine that dam—bursting. My questions, my doubts, my cynicism, my fears—all were swept up in the river of the Spirit rushing through me. Love was unleashed full force on my soul. I was having my own personal upper-room experience!

I was undone; I wept and sobbed for joy on my bed. I found my hands raised in the air, my body shaking, and my mind clear of its previous confusion. In what seemed to be an instant, I felt seen and known to my very core; I was caught up in a state I can only describe as bliss. I felt at one with God . . . filled with him, and loved to my core.

After that experience, I didn’t feel as though I knew Jesus rationally like one would know the answer to a math equation. I felt as though I knew Jesus relationally like one would know someone you dearly love has just entered the room. This was a heart-knowing, a Person encountering a person—and something deep in my heart was settled.

In the beautiful little book, Sola Sancta Caritas, Joe Dongell writes these words about John Wesley’s understanding of the importance of experiencing the love God has for us:

If love is a gift from God, then we must seek to receive love from God, the very love we are commanded to then express both to God and to others. . . . The mere fact that one is a Christian, even a spiritually gifted and effective person, is not yet proof that one has undergone the deeper reception of God’s love. Love is something we must, apparently, seek (just as Paul urges in 1 Cor. 14:1), and must seek with the expectation that God will (in his own time and way) actually satisfy this quest.1

I like to think that Wesley’s experiences were similar to my own, perhaps his most well-known being his Aldersgate experience on May 24, 1738. This is when he famously said his heart was “strangely warmed.” But at Fetter Lane on January 1, 1739, as he gathered with others for prayer on New Year’s, we sense a tone that is somewhat different in character, if not intensity, from what happened at Aldersgate:

Mr. Hall, Kinchin, Ingham, [George] Whitefield, Hutchings, and my brother Charles were present at our love feast in Fetter Lane, with about sixty of our brethren. About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his majesty, we broke out with one voice, “We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.”2

Your experiences of God’s love may be very different from mine or Wesley’s. I certainly have not had another one like the experience I described since. But I somehow imagine that Paul would have smiled, and understood all the kinds of experiences with the love of God noted by saints throughout history, and experienced by you and me on a day-to-day basis. Paul’s own conversion, which we will explore soon, may have had some of the same characteristics.

I am grateful that Jesus reaches into our lives, meets us in our spiritual confusion and religious ruts, and surpasses our knowledge with his love. He is truly the lover of our souls.


Lord Jesus, I am in you and you are in me. I want to experience all that you have for me in this life. I receive your presence in me, and your love for me, by faith. I also welcome you to interrupt my life with encounters with you that take me deeper into the reality of your love for me, and our union. In Christ Jesus, I pray, amen.


Can you relate an experience you have had on your journey with Jesus to one of the experiences shared? What happened, and how have you been changed by it?

For the Awakening,
Dan Wilt 


  1. Joseph Dongell, Sola Sancta Caritas (Franklin: Seedbed Publishing, 2006), 32.
  2. John Telford, The Life of John Wesley (London: The Epworth Press, 1947), 394.

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

5 Responses

  1. Personally, I’ve not yet experienced the deeply emotional type of encounters with the love of Christ that this posting makes reference to. But I did experience a personal crisis of faith whereby some of my understanding of Scriptures that I had received as a child growing up in church were challenged. I grew up in a denomination that didn’t stress the implications of Spiritual Gifting or the need to pursue a deeper personal relationship with Christ through sacrifice of one’s own will, rather than mere assent to correct doctrine. Hearing a deeper call to true discipleship at a revival service, something else that was not experienced in my upbringing, I came under the conviction that I was NOT living my life in a way that reflected that I was no longer my own, but should be living for Him who had died for me and was raised again (2 Corinthians 5:15). This was the pivotal point for me to rethink my relationship to Christ, his Church and my calling as a true disciple. I prayed for wisdom and understanding pertaining to the purpose and practice of Spiritual Gifting, and how these inform our calling to service within the Kingdom of God. As a result, I’ve been blessed to be used by God to help others understand their calling as well, through Bible study.

  2. The Love of Christ is experienced emotionally through our souls. None, at least for me, is more profound than the first, for this love encounter changed my life to the new creation written in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
    I’ve experienced God’s love on many occasions, some emotionally and other times through serving. Others have experienced Christ’s love through me by serving Him, and God blessed all. These are the fruits of love Christ is known by, and we should be known by.
    Can we, while we inhabit these bodies, experience the fullest of God’s love?
    Probably not. At least not where we can understand it.
    Can you imagine the difference between experiencing His love now and when we meet Him in Heaven?
    It surpasses my knowledge.

    Staying 💪’n Christ
    Ephesians 6:10
    Finally, be strong IN the Lord and IN His mighty power.

  3. I remember that morning like it was yesterday. Everything I “believed” moved from my head, to my heart & soul too.
    There are no words to describe or express the transformation of surrendering all to Him. I always was a believer, surrendering to His will is being still when the human being in us want take “control” Psa 46:10 (NKJV) Be still , and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

  4. Thank you, Dan, for sharing your powerful experience of the fullness of God’s love for us! I have been circling around Paul’s Ephes. 3 prayer for years, and I am thrilled to read your articles on it during this Eastertide!

    We are in a new community church (a break-away from the UMC,) and as a church we are beginning a study on Dr. Seaman’s “Follow the Healer.” I have also studied it, and other Seedbed recommended books, with my disciple-making small group. We are praying to have the character of Christ-the Fruits of the Spirit-and the Gifts of the Spirit in order to have a powerful ministry of love with healing, signs and wonders performed through the Name of Jesus!

    This prayer of Paul is so powerful yet difficult to understand and apply. Thank you again for your articles!

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