What Jesus Means to Me
By Billie Marie Zal
Many, many years ago when I was very young in the faith I read a tiny book entitled What Jesus Means to Me. I remember that while the book was written in a rather orthodox style, still it helped me to know more of my inheritance in Christ. And I vowed that when I was older and wiser in the Lord I would write a message, too, telling of all He means to me.
And so I have waited all these years for a message on the subject, for I discover that when I try to make up a message in my mind then nothing happens. I might get very grand ideas and logical conclusions, but they are stale and dry and void of life when I put them down on paper. For I have discovered that when we get a message from the very throne of God we must first have sufficiently lived out the message in our personal lives before our words have life giving power. Therefore, this little message, hopefully, might bring you into a closer, more real relationship with the One who means so much to me.
When I meditate upon what Jesus means to me my mind traces itself back to the thought first of all that He means “belonging.” For the first time in my life since I struck out on my own I completely belong to Someone! This is almost too wonderful to contemplate, for I was always an “outsider.” I say this because of my sinful nature and - being of the elect family of God - I was always aware of something that separated me from Him. And so I felt this void and even though I tried again and again to live a Godly life still I failed miserably.
Then, in God’s good time, He very graciously revealed His Son to me. It came about by my trusting in His Word which read, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sings be as scarlet, they shall be a white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). God’s time for my salvation had arrived, and I knew that He could and would forgive me for all my sins, past, present and future, because of Jesus.
And you know, something special happens when someone takes you in and forgives you and cleans your life up, especially when that Someone is God Almighty, the God of the whole universe! I had been an outsider, and now I belonged, for always. I suppose a good analogy would be the description of a lost dog. You can look at a dog running along the road and know immediately whether he is lost or not. You can tell whether or not he “belongs” by the swagger of his strut, or the light in his eyes, or even the tilt to his tail. And I am sure that if anyone had
observed me closely during those years before I belonged to the Master then they would have most certainly noticed that I was lost. Not only animals, but people as well, show whether or not they belong to someone. Women take on a special sparkle when their husbands take the least notice of them, and a meaningful relationship between husband and wife is always reflected by their outward appearances. “Belonging to Someone for always” then is one of the first things that Jesus means to me.
Next, being accepted by someone, even if I am not perfect, is the second most important thing that Jesus means to me. I believe that I had an unusually tender conscience as a child as well as on into adulthood. This tender conscience, however, did not relieve me of the burden of sin, for I sinned daily as any human will do because of Adam’s fall. If people are honest (Christians as well as unbelievers) they will admit that never a day passes but what some sin is committed. Even if we do not commit the grosser sins, still we possess the sins of the disposition which are most grievous to God.
When I was first saved I thought that my days of sinning were done with. I set about gaining perfection much as I set about making a straight A average in school. I erroneously thought that God my Father would be well pleased with my efforts at making myself perfect. I did not realize that He cannot be pleased with anyone other than His Son, and that all my strivings were of no value either to Him or to myself. When this knowledge finally came to me by revelation (sanctification as well as salvation is by grace because of our faith in Christ) then my strivings were over. The reality that I didn’t have to be perfect for God to love me became very clear and I began to relax in His love. And then I began to grow out of sinful habits and attitudes and am still growing.
I had a friend once whom I had led to Christ and I knew instinctively that he did not like me. Because I was a youngster in the faith I naturally resented him for this. But God got me quickly on this attitude and then the Lord impressed me with the thought that I would have to tell my friend that I loved him even if he did not love me. How difficult it was to get those words out. But I did, and he loved me back. That’s the way God’s love is. He loves us even when we are imperfect, for His Son made this possible. And so Jesus means this to me: that I am loved and accepted by God even with all my many imperfections. I do not have to “add up” to anyone or anything. “But God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 8:5).
As I begin to list all that Jesus means to me I realize that there is no end to these realities and I could never write a message that would cover everything. But I will quickly add a few more special meanings. One is that I am taken care of by Someone. I have particularly
experienced this reality, for I have lived by faith in His supply of my needs for eighteen years.
And it has worked. Or rather, I should say that He has worked. I believe that no matter who we are or how wealthy we are, all of us are very needy and we ought to know it in order to depend on Him. I am especially needy concerning affections, which means that I feel I need to be taken care of. I never did go along with the Women’s Lib view of independence and I admit that I have always had a need for Someone to care for me. Once when my son was visiting he found my vacuum cleaner bag stuffed to overflow (one of my minor vices, letting it get too full because I don’t like to empty it) and he took it outside, carefully cleaned it and then scolded me for my laziness. This made me feel very much cared for and I enjoyed the thought. I am thankful that I have this need. It makes me realize more fully all that Jesus has done for me. “He careth for you.” This is His Word.
Another thing that Jesus means to me is that I have Someone who is strong enough to discipline me. He settles me when I am out of line. While the greatest percentage of people dislike the word, discipline, for me it is my security blanket. I know that a strong hand draws the lines and I can go that far and no farther. At least I know that I am safe within those lines and if I go beyond them, then I cannot blame God for what happens. It is good that I have this attitude, for the Lord has taken me through some awful times, humanly speaking, and had I not experienced the discipline of His Spirit I might have rebelled at the pain and hardships and left my first love for Christ. It is only through obedience to God’s will that we acquire discipline, and obedience has always been a beautiful word to me. For my Lord said, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments,” and so keeping them, or obeying them, is beautiful.
Because of the fact that Jesus is strong enough to discipline me, I have gained emotional stability and mentally strong attitudes. I was certainly a mess when He saved me. I had in fact made an appointment with a psychiatrist for I knew that I could not hold on to my sanity much longer if something didn’t happen. But now, though I have fears, anxieties, all the human afflictions that come to us through the fall, still by obedience to God’s will I have overcome them and do overcome them day by day. It makes me strong in the Lord and the power of His might and less than nothing in myself.
In closing, I will say that perhaps the most glorious thing that Jesus means to me is that I have the certainty that I shall go to heaven and see Him face to face. It isn’t a mind certainty, it is a spirit certainty. I am beset with all the same fears of any human concerning death. It is an unknown and are we not all afraid of the unknown? But in our spirits we are assured that death is merely an entrance into life eternal. For this reason I do not try to contact the spirits of the dead, for it they are with the Lord I will see them when He thinks it is necessary. I do not probe into the darkness of “the other side,” for this side keeps me far too busy at present to get
involved with the other side. But more important, I do not have to seek and find out what is beyond the grave. I know. There is glory, and there is eternity with the Triune God.
Really, then, all that Jesus means to me is reflected in what I have written. He is Someone who takes us in when we are lost. He is Someone who loves us even with our faults. He is Someone who cares for us and supplies our material, mental, emotional and spiritual, as well as physical needs. He is Someone who disciplines us that we might learn to survive until we get to Glory. And He is Someone who sees us through physical death into life eternal and then makes us welcome forever and ever.
If you have been longing to find such a Person, He is here. All you have to do is enter into His Household and He will not turn you away.
- January, 1974
Prayer Requests for September, 2007
For Anthony Grayson, Fallsburg, New York, who is preparing his appeal for the courts.
For James Devers, Cushing, Oklahoma, who has a number of health problems.
For Robert Heffernan, Brickeys, Arkansas, that he’ll be able to walk on his own some day, and for clemency from the Governor.
For Ken Hogan’s son, Kristopher, who is in Federal prison in California, that God will protect him.
For Willie Scott at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who has prostate cancer. He had surgery last month and will now undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
For Randal Smith, Cushing, Oklahoma, that his family will contact him.
For Chris Harley’s daughter, Andrea Harley, that she won’t go down the wrong road. Chris is at Florence, Arizona.
For Andre Barry, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that he gets to go to work release.
For Jimmy Huff at Colorado City, Texas, for his ministry, and for his health.
For Timothy Bufford’s sons, Elias & Timothy, Jr., who are in a bad environment, that God will keep them safe until they can be moved. Timothy is at Florence, Arizona.
For Johnny Hoffman & Willie Hoffman, & their family, to stay strong, as their Mother just passed away.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry in Los Angeles, California.
For Tommy Hayes & everyone at the Stevenson Unit, in Cuero, Texas.
For Isaac Douglas & his family; and for his cell partner, Donald who has cancer of the neck and tongue. Isaac and Donald are at Canton, Illinois.
For everyone on H unit at McAlester, Oklahoma, that the air conditioning will stay on the rest of the summer.
For Willie Harper, Menard, Illinois, who is having stomach problems.
For Mickey Miller, McAlester, Oklahoma, who may be facing new charges, that God will keep him safe.
For Willie Clark, at Abilene, Texas, that he will transferred closer to Houston.
For Sister Ann & the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For all of us at Wingspread.
A couple of notes: From Gail, to thank all of you who remembered her on her birthday, August 19th. She received many cards and notes and wanted you to know she appreciated each one. And to let everyone know that Eddie has changed his mind about retiring in September. Everyone here wants him to retire, but it’s Ed’s choice and he wants to continuing working for now. So keep him in your prayers for strength.
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