"You should have seen what happened at school today. Everyone was crying," my eighth-grader shared in the van late last week.

I could tell she wanted to say more, but it was just too hard with her siblings all around fighting for air time. But from her expression, I knew that though it had been an emotion-filled day, it wasn't necessarily in a bad way. And then I remembered the all-day retreat. The tear-filled afternoon must have be linked to that.

Once her siblings had disappeared into the house, she pulled out a folded-up piece of paper from her backpack and began reading it out loud. "Listen to this, Mom." She wouldn't be sharing unless it really mattered. I perked up.

It was a letter from God that had been given to her and her classmates. She was only a few lines into repeating it for my sake when my own internal waterworks were tapped. Just a little wetness in the eyes, but how could one so loved not react? This is the stuff that moves the world, not to mention an individual heart.

Around this time last year, I'd just begun an email conversation with an atheist gal my age. One of the most confounding aspects of what she revealed to me in our months-long conversation was her version of God. Let's just say it was far from pretty; in fact, it was downright horrifying. If that had been the God to whom I'd been introduced, I'd have run the other way, too.

Somehow, gratefully, I missed the memo about God being a tyrant. Instead, I have been fed a steady diet of loving thoughts from my Lord and Savior from my earliest years as a Christian. And it's made all the difference.

Words can either draw in or repel. The words God has expressed to me through His never-ending letter of love have been true sustenance for my soul. If only atheists could know this love. It would change everything for them, too. I pray that this letter will reach every last one of God's children, that all will know of their uniqueness and eternal worth.

I'm going to let Jesus take over from here. This one's for you. Yes, you...

My dear child,

I love you (John 15:9). I have called you by name, you are mine (Isaiah 43:1). Before I formed you, I knew you. And before you were born, I consecrated you (Jeremiah 1:5). You did not choose me, I chose you (John 15:16). Because you are precious to me, and honored, I love you (Isaiah 43:4). I have loved you with an everlasting love and I will continue my constant love (Jeremiah 31:3). 

How can I abandon you? My love for you is too strong (Hosea 11:8). I love you so much that I hung on the cross at Calvary. I died for you, and if you believe in Me, you will have everlasting life (John 3:16). 
Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Yet even should she forget, I will never forget you. I cannot forget you. I formed you in the palm of my hands (Isaiah 49:15-16). I am with you always until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). 

Do not let your heart be troubled, trust in me (John 14:1). I will help you (Isaiah 41:13). When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you. Your troubles will not overwhelm you. My rod and my staff will comfort you. I will lead you in the path of righteousness (Psalm 23). I will give you peace in the midst of a storm. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). The peace I give you surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

My eyes are upon you and I will give you hope, for I am merciful (Psalm 33:18). You will have access to my grace and rejoice in hope while sharing in the glory of my Father (Romans 5:2). You may have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you (John 16:22). 

Do not worry (Luke 12:9). Even the hairs on your head have all been counted, so there is no need to be afraid of anything (Matthew 10:30). The mountains may depart and the hills will be shaken but my steadfast love for you will never end (Isaiah 54:10). 
Come unto me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). I will be true and faithful. I will show you constant love and make you mine forever. I will keep my promise, and you will really know me then as never before. I am the Lord your God (Hosea 13:4). 

Your Faithful Friend,

Yeah, so, just in case you forgot...you are loved. Always and forever. No matter what. And if you ever need a reminder...there it is.

Q4U: Which of Jesus' words of love affect you the most?

Copyright 2011 Roxane Salonen