Now, to sound like the opening line of a bad novel ….
I remember the day well. It was my last year as a free child. I would start kindergarten the next year.
My mother used to make cakes and sew for neighbors for some extra money. One day she was making a wedding cake if I remember correctly. She was in need of a gallon of milk so she decided to run up to the corner Seven Eleven store. She asked if I wanted to come along. In those days, (so very long ago), we did not use car seats and we kids got to sit shotgun in the front seat. I remember the windows being down. My long light blonde pony tails were flapping in the wind. My feet barely hung off the edge of the bench seat. The Seven Eleven was not far from our home. My Mom ran inside while I sat out in the car. We were parked in a spot towards the far right of the front of the store. Just to the right of the store was a very large tree. I think it’s a weeping willow. The tree looked like a green waterfall cascading from the trunk. I was thinking how beautiful it was. I could see many birds in the branches and flying about the tree singing their happy tune. I loved to listen to their happy chatter. It reminds me to this day of the sound of children playing in a playground at recess time. Lots of chatter, laughter and shouts. You know the sound of happy little bodies busy at play. I watched for a while just enjoying it. I still find great pleasure in watching animals in their environments busily at play or work. I remember thinking how much God must love that beautiful tree and those happy birds. I realized then in my small four year old mind that God did love them. He provided for them. He took care of them. I realized I was more important then the tree and the birds. I wanted God to take care of me. I prayed and asked Jesus to take care of me the rest of my life. When my mother got in the car I told her what happened. I asked if I had prayed correctly. She told me I had. I remember simply believing and accepting that Christ would handle everything.
Something happened….. I got older.
It was High School camp. I’m thinking 1985 up in Prescott Pines Baptist Camp. The week’s speaker was Shawn Mitchell, a Pastor from San Diego. Shawn and I had spent time talking and praying together that week and continued to do so each time we saw each other in future years. As a teen I had a great deal of respect for this man of God. He could read me like a book. Gently, lovingly correcting and encouraging me because he thought I was worth it. One night I cracked open my Bible and notebook ready for the night’s lesson. Little had I realized it would be one I would call on for many years to come. The night’s lesson was entitled, “Returning to your First Love.” I thought how odd. We were all teens in the room. Many were just experiencing their first real crush let alone their first real love.
Do you remember your first love? Remember the way your blood pressure rose when they were near? Your heart would flutter. How you would loose your ability to communicate the first time they looked at you? How your palms would get sweaty? How you thought about them day and night? How you hated to be a part from them? When you are married those feelings pass. Yet many a counselor will say to remember those days. It helps rekindle the romance in the relationship.
Our walk with Christ is the same. I’ve noticed a theme in my life. Dependence and trust on Christ. One of my life verses is Proverbs 3:5&6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” When I saw those birds and that tree I realized then that Christ would take very good care of me.
Shawn Mitchell challenged all of us in chapel that night to step back. Remember our faith when we were saved. For some of us it meant remembering that child like faith. At that time in my life I needed to hear this. It struck a chord. I spent that night remembering the day I asked Jesus to be my Messiah, my Savior, my Friend and the love of my life.
A few years later….
I was in charge of teaching a weekly Bible study for my dorm floor. Finals were coming and we had been pulling all nighters. Money was running low for many. We were running out of food coupons and life was getting hard. It was 30 minutes before Bible study time and I was studying the history of comedia del arte when a friend walked in to confirm where we were meeting for Bible study. Quickly I grabbed my stack of notebooks that had notes from previous sermons. I shuffled through and couldn’t figure which one and what sermon I could use for a foundation. I just grabbed one. Grabbed my Bible and met the girls. We spent time in prayer. (Some of us more then others.) I opened my notebook. Saw the title “Remember Your First Love”. I knew that sermon well. That night after leading the girls through the lesson, I had learned years before, we all realized that it was a God thing. I had to confess I had not prepared and was caught off guard. It was a lesson we all needed to hear. We had been focused on school and life and had taken our focus from our first love.
Why do I share this with you now?
As the story goes…. Years later. Maybe more years then I want to confess.
Though I have been clinging to Christ I realized I had not been “in love” with him. As relationships go there are ups and downs. Christ has been strong and always there. Now I am taking the time to “fall in love” with him all over again.
It’s true that we should not dwell on the past. That we need to live in the now. Prepare for the future but not dwell on it. We are to learn from our past. This is all true and it is what I am trying to do in my life. However, I must say dwelling on that beautiful day when I was four and looking back on the path I have traveled has done me good. It’s reminded me of unconditional love. It’s reminded me of forgiveness. It’s reminded me of how loved I am and how precious I am in the eyes of God. Yes, God the one who created the universe, the one who in a blink of an eye can take it all away. HE loves ME.
My challenge to you today would be to remember your first love. That first time you fell in love with Christ and then to share it. Don’t just remember, but share it with others. Share it with me. Let’s all rejoice over the love that Christ has given to us. If you do not know Christ in this way please visit http://www.needhim.org/. I would be thrilled to introduce you to your GREAT love.
From Ten Shekel Shirt – Ocean
Lately, I’ve been thnking about You
And lately, I’ve been dreaming of You
And lately, I can’t get You out of my head Get You out of my head
Something about the ocean
Makes me rise up and praise
Something about the heavens
Makes me stand in awe again
Something about the sunrise
Reminds me of Your faithfulness
Something about the ocean
And I’m lost in love again
I’ll sing until I sense a smile
Upon Your great and lovely face
And till I know Your glory’s in this place Your glory’s in this place
A treasure for you:
Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to Him.
-Ephesians 5:2 NLT