My Lessons from Heaven: We Are Loved

Dr. Mary NealBy Dr. Mary Neal4 Minutes

Hello, and welcome back to Strengthen Your Walk with me, Dr. Mary Neal. Today I’ll be sharing some of what I learned when I was pinned and drowning on a South American river.

I’m an experienced whitewater kayaker, and was kayaking with friends who are professionals, as well as a few other American clients. When we approached one of the drops, or waterfalls, on this river, circumstances were such that I had to veer off course and go over a 10- to 15-foot waterfall. My boat and I became pinned, or stuck, at its base, and we were immediately submerged under 8-10 feet of water.

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Now, I am a very pragmatic person and I understood fully the consequences of my predicament. Rather than panicking, I tried to free my boat, or free me from my boat. But I also made a very active choice, asking that God’s will be done.

Now, you might imagine that I asked this because I had no other options, Or that it was a passive giving in, or giving up, but it wasn’t like that. Even in that dire circumstance, it was clear to me that I had a choice. I could turn toward God, or away. But it had to be an active choice born of my own free will.

I chose to turn toward God and I allowed God’s love to enter in. The moment I did that, I was immediately and physically held and comforted by Christ, who was the embodiment of pure kindness, compassion, empathy, and understanding.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus assures us of His continued presence and promises to open the door to anyone who knocks. That was the remarkable thing about it — I hadn’t earned it. And I hadn’t deserved it, but despite having a somewhat tepid and atrophic faith, I knew that it was Christ who was holding me. I knew that He would be there holding any person who asked — even the people we don’t like — the ones who have wounded us, don’t look like us, pray like us, and think like us.

Maybe you’ve done or said something in the past that you think puts you beyond God’s love. But it’s not true. God’s love is freely available to every person who chooses it, no matter their past or present circumstances.

When I was at the bottom of the river, I knew without any doubt that every person on this planet is as deeply loved by God as I knew I was in that very moment. Accepting this one truth, this one promise of God — that we are all, every single one of us, deeply and freely loved by the God of the universe — has forever changed my experience of other people. That doesn’t mean that I immediately love everyone. Or even like them. That would be entirely unrealistic. But when I consciously remind myself of God’s promise, I’m able to open my heart to other people and see them as equally beloved and valued children of God.

Thank you all for joining me today, and I pray that you will always find comfort in knowing that no matter your circumstances or past choices, God will always throw open his arms and run toward you and toward me with love. May God’s love completely fill your heart, and help you to see the divine in others.

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