My husband and I had agreed to house two young men. Tony McRae and Donny Limbert were, at that time, seminary students with extraordinary musical gifting. They would be performing at our church for the first of what became many times on Sunday morning of that particular weekend. They arrived in town on Saturday evening. After a sound check at the church, they were driven to our home by our pastor.

Our oldest daughter, Ashley, had gone to bed early after a hard day of play. Our youngest, Jessica, had determined with 3-year-old resolve to stay awake long enough to meet the guys who were taking over her bedroom.

Somewhere around 9:00 our pastor arrived with the singers/ministers in tow. We greeted one another and I asked if they were hungry or thirsty, aware that Jessica had become the shadow of my right leg. Clad in soft pink and white pajamas, she looked up at the handsome and smiling men. Then, turning quickly, she left the room, blonde curls bouncing on her shoulders. When she returned she had in her tiny hands a book about Jesus. She paused at the living room door long enough to access where everyone was now sitting. Spotting Tony as being the nearest, she headed to him, book outstretched. Tony greeted her kindly, then watched as she opened her book to a page where a smiling Jesus had been captured in color pencils.

“Jesus,” she said, pointing to the image.

“That’s right,” Tony responded. “And He loves you very, very much.”

Jessica’s blue eyes met his. “I know,” she said.

Fast Forward
Sixteen years later, an angry Jessica — who’d we’d recently asked to leave our home — was escorted into our living room by her then-boyfriend. Rio (the boyfriend) was, himself, the father of a young daughter. The turmoil of our family was tangible as he ordered Jessica to sit next to him on the sofa. My husband and I sat in separate chairs across the room, looking at the child we barely recognized as our little girl. She, in turn, stared in disdain at the floor beneath her feet.

“Do you see these two people?” Rio’s question ended the silence.

She gave us an obligatory glance.

“Those two people,” Rio continued, “are the only two people in this world who would die for you. And yet you treat them like you do…”

There Is One More
The words have stayed with me these several years later. The only two people in this world who would die for you.

But I knew in my heart then as I know now, there is One more. One who not only would die for her, but did.

How deep is a love that would so willingly die?

Between the 9th and 17th verses of John 15, Jesus uses the word “love” nine times.

“As the Father has loved me,” He said, “I have loved you.”

He said that we are to remain in His love by obeying His commands; that we are to love one another as He has loved us. His command, He said, is simply to love one another.

He also called those who sat in attendance (His disciples) His friends. No one, He said, can love another more than the one who would lay down his life for his friends. Jesus was speaking in the Upper Room, mere hours from what would be His betrayal, mock trial, and crucifixion. He well knew what He was walking into and even better understood the kind of love it would require.

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
In 1926, the year after the death of a London merchant and open air preacher named Samuel Trevor Francis, O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, and Other Poems, was published by Pickering and Inglis.

In his hymn, Francis wrote: O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!

Francis, in previous stanzas, used the deepest and fullest part of the ocean’s water to metaphorically describe the power and magnitude of the love of Christ. It is immeasurable, he penned. It rolls over us as the waves of the tide and we can feel it underneath us, all around us! It leads us as He watches over us; those for whom He died to call His own. And nothing… nothing!... can compare to it. It is, as Francis wrote, “the heaven of heavens.”

Have You Felt This Love?
My daughter’s stray from such love was brief. From start to finish, it lasted about two years. In a recent interview for Coral Ridge Ministries (Dr. D. James Kennedy), she said, “I had a moment where I felt close to God again and I opened up that door again and made a decision… I didn’t want anything to keep me away from that.”

What drew her back to the Lord? That same love she’s been told about as a little girl by a young minister of the Gospel. The love that had willingly nailed itself to a cross on a hill called Golgatha over two thousand years ago. The love that was so strong, so incredibly strong, it burst through the gates of hell and death, resurrected itself and continues to live in the hearts and souls of those He calls His friends. His brothers and sisters. His bride.

Especially this time of year — as florists prepare fragrant bouquets, and greeting card companies thrill to the increase in sales, as romantic restaurants polish their silver and wipe down their crystal, and as young men and women plot and plan some special moment of love — many others feel lonely, forgotten, unloved, and unlovable.

Well, that’s just not so. If that is you, allow me to speak to your heart: there is One who loves you more than you can imagine. His is a love that draws you (Song of Solomon 1:4) as it washes over you.

His is, as Francis wrote, a love of every love, the best!

Eva Marie and Jessica Everson’s story can be read in their books, Sex, Lies, and the Media and Sex, Lies, and High School (Cook/Life Journey).  Now sought after speakers, they share their testimony to audiences of parents, grandparents, and youth workers while educating about the dangers of media to our youth culture.