A college friend of mine who was a youth pastor once shared this personal story with a group of teenagers. I'll never forget it:
During college, I got a part-time summer job to help pay my bills. I worked at a clothing store in a big mall. Many college and high school students worked at that store and every Friday they would talk about what they were going to do over the weekend. The parties they were going to attend or the dance clubs and bars they were going to visit. They would invite me to go with them, but I would always politely decline their invitation. On Monday, these same co-workers would talk about all the crazy things they had done, the alcohol and drugs they had consumed, the wild parties, and casual sexual encounters they had enjoyed over the weekend. Week after week and month after month I would be invited to join them and would decline. Over time almost everyone I worked with learned that I was a Christian.
One Friday afternoon, a female co-worker invited me to yet another party, and when I told her I would be going out of town that weekend she said, “I just don’t get you at all. You never want to go out and do anything fun. I know you’re a Christian, but why? You can’t do anything fun! Christianity is just a bunch of rules! Don’t you think you’re missing out and wasting your life?” Her confusion and frustration were obvious. This young lady had recently gotten involved in a relationship with another co-worker of ours and after a few wild weekends together, he had suddenly quit his job and quit her. The gossip in our store was unavoidable. I felt God leading me to share honestly and boldly with her:
“Let me ask you a question: If I knew you completely and I loved you perfectly, would you trust me?”
My question caught her off guard. “What are you talking about?”
“If I knew everything about you. Everything on the outside and everything on the inside. If there were no secrets between us. I knew your good qualities and all your bad ones. I knew every word you were going to say even before you said it. I even knew your thoughts, your desires, and the intentions of your heart.”
“That’s impossible,” She cut in.
“But if I did know you that way AND I loved you perfectly. Not with the kind of love that most people have for one another based on looks and personality and success, but perfect, unconditional love. A love that never changes, never diminishes, never stops. If I knew you like that and loved you like that would you trust me?”
I could tell by the look on her face that she was seriously contemplating my question. She paused for a few seconds and then said, “Yes. If you knew all my junk and still loved me unconditionally then I would trust you. But that kind of love doesn’t exist.”
“Actually it does. This is the kind of love God has for us. God knows everything about us. He knows every thought and intention in our heart - good and evil - and every word we’re going to speak before we speak it. The Bible says God even knows how many hairs are on our heads! He knows us completely because He made us. He also loves us perfectly. His love is not based on how we look or perform, on who we are, or what we think, feel or do. We can’t do anything to make Him love us more or love us less. He loves us because we are His.”
I had her full attention.
“So when God, who made me and knows me and loves me, tells me to trust Him, I trust Him. If He says don’t be drunk with wine, but fill yourself with my Spirit then I do so willingly because I trust Him. When He says don’t engage in sexual activity until you get married then I don’t look at that as a rule, I must follow grudgingly, but as an opportunity to have the best marriage, best family, and best life possible. God is not trying to keep me from having fun, but trying to protect me from pain and regret and lead me on the path to a very full and rewarding life. When someone knows you completely and loves you perfectly, you can trust them.”
With a single tear rolling down her cheek, my co-worker looked me in the eyes and said, “Yes. I believe you can.”
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)