We Love Because HE First Loved Us
My name is Joel and I’m in my last year of a History degree at the University of Ottawa in Canada.
Knowing about God is one thing, BUT really knowing God – knowing that He is real and knowing that he really knows ME is a another thing. Growing up I knew a lot about God.My family went to church every week and for the most part I enjoyed it. I knew that God was important and I prided myself in my knowledge of my faith, but God was always distant. Faith for me was very much connected to my family experience.
At some point I was invited to take part in a retreat through my Parish youth group. I had been on retreats with my parents as I grew up, but this was the first time I was going off on my own and experiencing it for myself. On saturday night we had an opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration. I don’t think I had ever been to Adoration before, but somehow I knew deep down that something powerful was going to happen that night. Before Adoration they had a presentation that showed clips from the movie Passion of the Christ. While watching this I was struck by just how much Jesus suffered. I realized exactly what Jesus had done on the cross, how he had paid the price of my sins on the cross. Right away we went into Adoration. The moment they exposed Jesus, I had a powerful experience of God’s love and presence.I instantly broke down into tears. For the first time in my life I experienced God in real and personal way. I knew that he existed, that he knew me and loved me. Later that night, during a time of silence I audibly heard my name called three times. Each time I turned and looked around but there was no one trying to get my attention. I came to the conclusion that Jesus was calling my name. He was calling me to follow him with my whole life. When the night ended I could hardly contain my joy, I wanted to make sure that everyone knew what God had done. Little did I know that ten years later I would be sharing my story in Poland leading up to World Youth Day!
This personal experience of God’s love has completely changed the trajectory of my life. From that moment onwards I decided to place God at the center of my life. God went from being distant to being real and present in my life. I know that no matter what happens in my life, no matter how many times I fail, I will always chose to follow the Lord, because He knows me and loves, and I desire to know Him and love Him more.
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)