I don’t yet know how many “parts” this series will be, and I may even post other things in between, but I want to share with you how falling in love with Jesus is about remembering the “firsts” of your relationship with him. This post includes “first” number one, and I hope to share with you other “firsts” I have experienced with God in the weeks to come.
It is that time of year again, time to celebrate love. And while my “love tank” seems especially full in this season of my life, I can’t help but think about friends who have experienced the pain that can happen when you open yourself up to love. As much as we try, we humans just cannot love perfectly. We love too much and suffocate, or we don’t love enough and wither. There are countless ways that love can hurt, but there are also countless ways that it can heal. In this fallen world we often find ourselves loving until it hurts, but God offers something entirely different.
“For God so loved the world…”
He loved us so fiercely that He sent his own son to DIE so that we would be free from our sin, free to love Him back. He first loved us, gave us this gift, and now He simply waits for us as we freely choose to return that love.
Pause for a minute, and even though you might have heard that a thousand times before, think about it again. God sacrificed His most valued possession so that we could each have our own love relationship with Him. He loves us individually, intimately and infinitely. The thought of this makes me want to run to Him, throw myself in His arms, and love Him back as passionately as He loves me.
But I didn’t always feel like this. There have been times that my soul felt dry and empty, angry and bitter, or just plain apathetic. And there are times, even still, that my love for God seems to wane. So, how is it that I am here now? How have I fallen so deeply in love with God? Will this feeling last? Although I can’t completely answer these questions, I do believe that it partially has to do with remembering the “firsts” of our love relationship. Just like in any relationship, there is something special about going back and remembering the “firsts”…the first date, the first time you said, “I love you,” your first kiss. The “firsts” spark something in our hearts and reignite a passion we once had.
I would like to suggest that this is true in our relationship with God, as well. For me it goes all the way back to when I was 10 years old…
The First Time I Saw God Answer My Prayer
Church has been a part of my life since as early as my first memory. My mom would load us three kids into the car most Sundays and take us to church. My dad stayed home. I don’t remember this being a bad thing at all. It’s just how it was. Looking back now, I believe that is a testament to my mom’s faith in Jesus and her unconditional love for my dad. She was a Christian, he was not. But she never talked bad about him or let us believe anything bad about him. We simply prayed. She would tuck us in bed each night and the prayers were so repetitive that I can still remember them… “Dear Jesus, I pray for our unsaved relatives, that they would get saved and I pray for dad that he would get saved, and I pray that he would let us go to Christian school. Amen.” I think this prayer was prayed over and over between 6 and 7 years old for me, because in 3rd grade I started Christian school, so that must have been an answer to prayer, and technically the first one, but it is not the one that God seared on my heart.
I was 10 years old and we were at a Sunday evening service, my mom, my sister and my brother. We were each in our separate classes doing our normal Sunday evening activities. The evening was nearly finished when an older friend of mine slipped into our class, pulled me aside and told me that my dad just got saved. Now, let me back up for just a minute and frame this for you. We went to the kind of church that has alter calls every service and people are always getting saved. You just learned from an early age that ‘this is what you must do so you don’t go to hell.’ Yep! One of those charismatic type places. Every single time I had the opportunity to sit by my dad when he would come for an occasional visit, my heart would pound a little faster as the Pastor would lead into the closing of his sermon, because I knew the alter call was coming. We would bow our heads and I would peek over at my dad’s hands, willing one of them to move and shoot up into the air with the decision to follow Jesus….but it never happened that way.
As my friend stood there, waiting for my response, all I could think was, “My dad had to work late. He didn’t even come to church with us,” so, for someone to come into my class and tell me something like this just seemed like a cruel joke at first. But then I noticed the completely joyful, serious look on her face and I knew that somehow, she was telling the truth. (I found out later that my dad stopped in late, after he was done with work. The way God brought him there and worked in his heart that night is a whole other story in itself.) I ran back to my teacher and yelled to her that my dad just got saved and asked if I could I go. The only thing I remember next was running into my dad’s arms, bursting into tears, and being carried around by him for the rest of the night. I was so in shock that it had actually happened that I couldn’t let go of him. God had answered my prayer…He really, really answered my prayer. It was then that the seed of faith was planted in my 10 year old little heart and I knew that nothing was beyond the power of God. Including, the first time I saw God answer my prayer.
Does this spark any “firsts” in your mind? I would love to hear from you! You can comment below or if you received this in your email, click the title to go to my blog to leave your comment there. I look forward to hearing your stories, as well. Keep watch for Part 2 of “How I Fell in Love With Jesus.”