Do you remember falling in love for the first time? Do you remember the excitement? The butterflies in your stomach? The anticipation of seeing or hearing from that special person? Do you remember the way your thoughts became consumed with that person? Do you recall spending time thinking about and preparing for special events like birthdays and Christmas by searching for the perfect gift or planning a surprise date night out together? Maybe you haven’t experienced a first love yet. Maybe you are experiencing it right now. Maybe you remember how much it hurt when that first love ended. Maybe instead of a romantic love you can relate those emotions to when you first met your best friend or fell in love with a passion God has given you. Perhaps you fell in love with art or creating beautiful music. Perhaps you come alive when you study science and God’s creation.
I’ve been reading the book of Revelation lately and I was struck by what Jesus tells the church in Ephesus. He tells them that they have abandoned their first love. Revelation 2:4 says, “However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love.”
Regardless of your current experience of a “first love,” one thing seems to be almost certain, we all tend to abandon our first love at some point. The butterflies fade, our thoughts drift back to the activities of each day and we think less often of that special person, and our actions become less and less intentional. We abandon our first love. Going out of our way to bless a friend becomes an inconvenience. Creating art or practicing an instrument becomes a chore. Finding that perfect gift or card that says, “I love you” becomes a drag. And all the things we once found adorable and endearing now begin to drive us nuts. We abandon our first loves.
And here Jesus tells his church that they have abandoned their first love, they have abandoned him. Do you remember the moment you fell in love with Jesus? Do you remember the tears that flowed down your face? Do you remember the excitement of your first Bible? Do you remember making promises of having quiet time with Jesus every day? Remember wanting to tell everyone you knew or met about Jesus and what His love had done in your life? And if you’re like me, after two or three weeks, the Bible passages grew shorter and you began falling asleep during prayer time before bed. If you’re like me, your conversations with others quickly drifted away from Jesus and back to where the best sales were, what happened on Pretty Little Liars last week and the latest gossip. And if you’re like me, soon you’ve abandoned your first love.
There’s good news though. Jesus hasn’t abandoned you! You are still His first love. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Thank God that my relationship with Him is not based on my commitment to and love for Him but His love for and commitment to me. He still gets butterflies whenever I choose to spend time with Him. No matter how long it has been, He still hangs on every word with anticipation and longing to hear more. No matter how little I’ve thought of Him throughout the day, His thoughts remain consumed with me. No matter how little I make time for Him, He always has time for me. And He always knows exactly what gifts to give, what needs to meet, and what words to say, even when I withhold the only gift He longs for – my heart.
And when I stop and think of what Jesus’ love for me cost Him – truly stop and consider – a funny thing begins to happen. The butterflies come back! My thoughts become consumed with thanks and praise for the King of Kings who died to make me His daughter and to save me from the death I deserved. And suddenly spending time with Him is all I ever want to do. May we all fall harder and more deeply in love with our first love, Jesus.
Perhaps you’ve noticed my love for music. Music speaks deeply to me and this past weekend I attended a concert where God showed up and made His love so clear. More on that later this week, but here’s a little preview.