BE FIRST



 

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

God took the initiative.

My first attraction to God was His love for me. This knowledge removed some of my insecurity and helped me lower my guard. I learned that, regardless of my mistakes and failures, He still wanted me. That sent the thrill of acceptance deep into my aching heart. Even with nothing good inside to make me worthy, somehow, He chose me anyway. These things play into the beginning of a trust relationship that grew into a bond of friendship. Friendship with God is part of His plan for us.

But to know this, I had to hear.

When I think of how that first love changed me, I am nothing short of amazed. It healed my soul and breathed life to my whole being. It gave me hope to live this life with trust and expectant patience. It gave a purpose to use the hurt in my life as a testimony to His greatness. Even the pain that I was ashamed to admit. It gave a sense of belonging that was real and true. When God invited me in to be His daughter, I became whole deep into my soul. That belonging melted the fear of rejection bit by bit as He proved His love over and over.

 But to know this, I had to hear.

 The crucial part was that someone told me about this love. They showed me in the Bible what God said. They showed me the Truth. They showed this love in their actions towards me. They lived it as an example so that I could start to understand.

 For God so loved the world…” His love for me came first. It was the catalyst for all that He did on my behalf and all that He continues to do.

“…that He gave His only son…” – to a horrible torturous death – to pay the price for all my sins.  All of them. He allowed His Son to accept all the charges that were held against me, to pay the penalty of death that only I truly deserved.

“…that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. …” So that I would live and thrive and have purpose and be a testimony and be a light. And when this life was over, there would be another life eternal with Him.

  John 3:16-17 is a game changer. It takes all the lies that I heard and cancelled them!

 This is the example for me to follow in pursuing love for others. Not that they are worthy or trustworthy or necessarily good. But neither was I. If we never approach people, then love can’t start. But we can eagerly share Christ when we choose to love them first.  

 Are all people loveable? Probably not. Was I? No, for sure. I was lost in a mess of selfishness and sin because of bad choices. But God chose to look beyond to my soul to where a little girl was hiding.

 So here is the question. Can I look beyond a cold heart and see that person hiding? First I must see them as a lost scared child who is afraid to reach out. I must look past the anger and words and dirt and grime to see who is really in there. And choose to love them anyway.

 How different this world would be if we were all able to be first lovers. If each one loved one, no one would be left behind. Everyone would hear the Good News. And at the end of the day, God is asking us to show up and to speak up and to live out loud all the love that He has shown to us.

 Can I love like that?

 Along with love there must be wisdom. Above all we must not become an enabler. God never enables us to continue down the wrong path. If we want to go He will let us. But the amazing thing is that we never leave His heart. So in the event of rejection, we can still choose to love. Our prayers need never stop for that one. We let them go knowing at least they have heard the truth of the love that awaits them.

 That is what God is asking us to do. To be first lovers, like Him.

This love is hard work. I can look back and see how hard God worked in His pursuit of my heart. The countless times I turned from Him until I was at the end of myself and had no other place to run. And He was there. And He loved. And He still holds all the tears from every moment that I cried in His arms. He was patient and kind and never gave up.

Content and Image 2023 © Charlene M Campanella (May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)

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