For God So Loved He Gave



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. 

John 3:16–17

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.


I knew her from the free breakfasts we would make for those living in the streets of our city. Friends would come from all over for those weekly morning meals, and we built community together as we swapped stories over pancakes and eggs. 

One particular older woman (I’ll keep her name anonymous here), about the age of a grandmother, was an outcast among the others who came to the meal. She often smelled strongly of alcohol and body odor. Few would sit by her, not only because of the smell but also because she was brash and harsh with her words.

One day I was walking up the hill of the main street in our city, a few blocks away from our church offices. I had a lunch meeting with a friend that I was looking forward to. As I glanced up the street, however, there she was, right on my path. She was apparently arguing with someone who either wasn’t there or who had walked away. 

Something in me said, “Turn around; go another way.” Then, someone in me—Christ in me—said, “Keep walking toward her.” As I reached her I said, “Good morning!” and called her by name. She looked me up and down, then a scowl came over her face. “Give me money for coffee,” she said. Not only did I not have cash on me at the time, but she wasn’t being kind enough for me to want to help. I politely told her I had no money, and she scowled again as she barked, “You have money. You just don’t want to give it to me.” I apologized and kept going so I wouldn’t be late for my meeting. Then, Christ in me spoke: “I love her. You have change in your desk drawer at the office. Go get it. Your meeting can wait.” 

I’d love to say my obedience was quick, but it wasn’t. I argued with the Lord for at least a minute. I had someone else to honor, after all, and they would at least be nice to me. Then, I could feel something burning in my heart. It was the love of God for this precious daughter who had lost her way in life and found herself on the painful end of almost every relationship she ever had. 

I turned and ran the few blocks to our offices. I actually hoped she wouldn’t go away. I scraped up all the change I had in my drawer, then I ran back up the hill. She was still there. I smiled, catching my breath. “I have the money to buy you a coffee. Let’s go.” She paused, her eyes softening. “You went and got money for coffee?” I said yes. Then she leaned over and planted a motherly kiss on my cheek. She then squished my face between her hands, and said, “Thank you.”

“For God so loved the world that he gave . . .” 

I don’t tell that story because I did something right, though I’m glad obedience won over my apathy, selfishness, and lack of attention to the voice of Jesus. I tell that story because God is a giver. And the quality of love we see in Jesus, the love of the Father incarnate, is the quality of love that dwells in you and me.

In Matthew 5:43–44, 46a, Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”

Loving this woman in Jesus’s name was hard for me. That is why he came to make his abode, his home, in us (John 14:23). His Spirit within us enables us to will and to do that which pleases the Father (Phil. 2:13). 

Jesus gets us beyond ourselves.

Loving the world, in Jesus’s name, is where the saving begins. Hearts become open to Jesus when they experience a love that surpasses what they had known before. Today, in the School of Union and Love, we learn that Jesus will help us love from within. He will help us do what we either won’t do, or feel we cannot do. 

God is a giver. By his grace, we are becoming givers too.


Lord Jesus, I am in you and you are in me. Forgive me when I have looked toward big opportunities to love others while leaving the small opportunities behind. Show me who you want me to love today in the world you love. I will obey. In Christ Jesus, I pray, amen.


Have you had any experiences like the one in this story? If so, how willing were you to obey when the moment came and what did you learn about God’s love for others?

For the Awakening,
Dan Wilt 

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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

3 Responses

  1. There was a homeless woman attending our Wednesday night dinners at the church where I am a member. I started sitting with her and we became friends. She is still living on the streets. Yesterday on my way to church I saw her walking and she had already picked up her meal. I waved big and she smiled and waved back!

    Today and all weekend I will be part of a Kairos Prison Ministry team that we will share the love of Jesus with the women.

  2. I appreciate your story on God directing you to love and meet this person’s needs.
    I’m currently in a Bible study group discussing the book Loving Messy People by Scott Mehl. While most of his examples so far are about messy people and situations in the church (and let me include we are all messy people), this incident is about God loving messy people in the world. Thank you for sharing this story.

  3. The inner voice you hear calling you to acts of love and kindness that are beyond your complacent zone, isn’t something in you telling you what to do. It’s someone speaking personally to you through your conscience. His name is Jesus.

    Make the choice
    To obey Christ’s voice
    And soon you will rejoice!

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