“Mama, will you help me practice my verse for graduation?” I had just picked up my youngest daughter from preschool, and she was excited about her upcoming ceremony. Her class had spent time rehearsing that day and she was eager to tell me all about it. When I read the communication binder from her teacher, I was surprised to learn that the children would be reciting Psalm 100 – the whole chapter!

I immediately pulled out my dusty Bible and looked up the Psalm. Whew! – I thought; it was only 5 verses. Five verses for a 5 year old (in my opinion) was a challenge, but compared to Psalm 119 with 176 verses, I wasn’t going to complain.

My daughter began to show me what she had learned, and to my surprise she’d memorized most of the chapter. She animatedly used her arms and hands for expression while reciting the verses. I was impressed, to say the least! Her teacher must have spent a good bit of time rehearsing with them.

Delighted by her enthusiastic performance, I encouraged her to practice the verses with our friends and family. As she did, their praises prompted more rehearsals, and by graduation night the whole family could have recited Psalm 100.

This single experience is what ignited my search for God as a young adult.  I grew up in church. I was involved in Sunday school, choir, and Awana’s. My family attended church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and weekly revivals in the summer. And while I was introduced to God, I didn’t know Him.

After graduating high school I gradually stopped attending church. Little did I know this pattern would continue for ten years.Occasionally I’d think about going back, but it was much easier to stay home rather than face the stares from old church friends.

I claimed to be a Christian, but my idea of Christianity was based on works instead of relationship. While separated from church, I’d traveled the long, hard road of bad choices, and a voice in my head said “ you’ll never be good enough.”

Surprisingly, the sweet, innocent voice of a little girl speaking the Psalms turned my mind to the things of God. I began to read my Bible, and I found a radio station that played Christian music. I also began listening to a radio program called Turning Point by David Jeremiah.

A few months passed, and after listening to Turning Point one morning, I felt a stirring in my heart. I knew God had been drawing me to Him, so I bowed my head and asked God to forgive me for turning away from Him. I surrendered control of my life to Him that day.

Immediately the uneasiness in my heart disappeared. Filled with an unexplainable peace, I began to desire a close relationship with God. I wanted to know Him. His gentle way of drawing me to Him was so different than what I grew up believing His character to be.

I wish I could say that this strong desire to know God has stayed with me continually over the last twenty years, but the truth is I have drifted away and returned back to Him several times.

Perplexed by this pattern, I’ve often wondered why I continue this song and dance. I’ve realized that when life gets busy or comfortable, I get lazy with my part of the relationship, but when problems arise I turn back to Him for answers.

Any other friend would probably become weary of this cycle, but God has always welcomed me back. And with every return I’ve learned that He is kind, merciful, and worthy of respect. He knows me completely and loves me anyway. This thought softens my heart, and increases my love for Him. A genuine love relationship is what He desires, and it’s what He’s teaching me to desire as well.

I’m so thankful that God never gives up on us. He relentlessly pursues us with His love, even by means of an innocent child excitedly reciting the words of King David. I’ll always remember the moment He whispered to my heart “I made you, and you are mine.”

His banner over me is love.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalm 100

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Inspiring others to place their hope in Jesus is Jill Jessen‘s desire as she writes. Having received inspiration from daily devotionals for years, she appreciates writers who have shared their life with her. She believes we learn from living and that everyone has a story to tell. Jill and her husband Greg have three children and are now entering in to the “empty nest” phase of life. The birth of their first grandchild this year was a sweet reminder of Gods perfect gifts.

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