Maryann Kelley

For as long as I can remember, I have believed in God, known Jesus as my Savior, and felt His presence. Some would say it’s impossible to recall memories as young as 22-months-old, but I vividly remember events from that time of my life. There are two common threads in each of these scattered, premature recollections—one is of great fear and agony, and the other is the comfort I experienced from a presence.

I was raised in church and eager to serve God in every way I was able. As a child and teen, I volunteered in multiple capacities. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to participate in youth ministry, go on mission trips, and share the love and peace of God that I had experienced so intimately.

I remember singing “What Can I Give Him” at the junior Christmas service one December. Tears streamed down my face as the singular sound of my seven-year-old voice filled the sanctuary. “What I, can I give Him? Give Him my heart.” I knew in that moment that there was nothing I could do or say or give that could ever compare with the comfort Jesus had provided to me, that could measure the great gifts He had given me, or could earn His perfect love with which He loves me. The only thing I had to give Him then, and it still rings true today, is to give Him my heart…to offer myself to Him in sweet, holy surrender.

Unfortunately, a seven-year-old does not know, understand, or have the ability and maturity to apply that sweet surrender. The cares of this world creep in inconspicuously and distractions side-track us time and time again. I traveled through my teens and twenties always believing, but not always living for Him; always knowing, but not always seeking His direction; always hoping, but not always trusting.

Becoming a mother drew me back into my own intimate experiences with God. Suddenly, the truths and the presence I had become keenly aware of as a young child flooded my heart and mind again. In my unrelenting pursuit to comfort, provide for, and protect my babies, I finally understood in greater measure God’s unrelenting love and pursuit for me. As I surrounded my own children with my presence, peace, and desire for them to prosper, I realized God’s desire to spend time with me and to help me fulfill my destiny in Him. As I prayed and sang and labored over my little ones, I recognized how God has spoken and sung and labored over me.

Growing and maturing in these revelations has led me to where I am today. I pursue God with passion—that I may know Him and make Him known—that all may know the height, the depth, the width, and the breadth of God’s unrelenting love. His love casts out all fear and covers a multitude of sins. From our very beginnings, He has loved us with the greatest love, and He desires to see all of us come to the knowledge of Him.