So as I have been praying today, what has really struck me in a clearly vivid way, is a memory. A memory of something God actually revisits with me semi-frequently.
I'm clearly not so fast at this whole getting-it-thing.
So as I sit cross-legged on the floor of my new apartment (oversized mug of tea in front of me), and journey in the fresh-revelation of eternity-lasting-truths, I invite you to join me in the journey.
Because I'm thinking about what it takes to fall in love.
And not just fall, but stay. And remain.
And not just with a person, but with One who is greater than that.
I've seen a number of really good friends go through the process of falling in love. Some pretty recently.
Chasing the person of their dreams, pulling out all the stops, becoming out-of-characterly romantic, falling in love.
And we, quite frankly, do some crazy things in this stage of ‘first love’.
The effort. The pursuit. The zeal. The tenacity. The thoughtful gifts and the ideally arranged dates. The excitement in learning the detail about another. The joy of time spent in someone’s presence.
We see sensible people do outlandish things in the name of love.
And this week my prayer has been focused upon this idea of first love.
This longing for Jesus to be more than a familiar stranger to me.
You know? We can feel like we kind of know who He is in a kind of distant way, but we don't really, really know Him. We're not sharing life and making history with Him.
Holy Spirit just came and dropped this verse smack-bang-centre into my mind.
Revelation 2 v 4-5.
A plea from Jesus to His church, His bride, about her first love.
His cry to us about our first love.
His cry to me about my first love.
My love for Him.
You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Or as the Message so eloquently puts it: But you walked away from your first love – why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? Turn back! Recover your dear early love.
Now I love God. I really, really, really love Him.
But I don’t ever want to forsake my first love for Him.
And that takes constant attention.
Which honestly? I am really, really bad at…
It's a day-by-day-moment-by-moment-choice-of-my-heart.
I don’t want to walk away from the place of intimacy and settle for knowing Him as only a familiar stranger or an acquaintance, when He longs to be my best friend, the lover of my soul and the keeper of my heart.
This verse got me thinking about what I need to do to cultivate this ongoing relationship and stage of first love.
The effort. The pursuit. The zeal. The tenacity. The thoughtful ways I give my life and heart and time to Him in ideally arranged dates. The excitement of trying to take in every new detail and aspect and facet of His character. The joy of time spent in His Presence.
Nothing can compare.
Because He can love me more in a moment than other lovers could in a lifetime.
I remember driving through the Scottish Highlands one morning in a similar season of reflection. And as I drove, worshipping Him and praying this through, I had a clear picture.
I was kneeling in a dry river bed.
The river had once been full and flowing.
But it was dry.
It was cracked.
It was peaceful.
But I was alone.
And I was kneeling with my hands outstretched before me, palms facing the sky, head turned towards the heavens, as if I were expecting rain.
I knew I had been earnestly praying for rain.
And in my picture, a great roar of water could suddenly be heard in the distance and warm raindrops started falling from the sky, and a stream began to flow down the river bed from behind me.
But the stream grew stronger and the water kept flowing.
The noise of rushing water grew louder and louder.
I wasn’t scared. It was a river I knew. A river I loved. A river I had missed.
And a smile of such joy came over my face, and I lifted my hands in praise and stood to my feet.
As I did this great rush of pure, fresh, perfect-temperature water just came from behind me and overtook me, swirling around my knees and then up to my waist.
And I began to dance.
Dance in the river.
Sing in the river.
Worship in the river.
Experience such joy in the river.
Be revived and fully made alive in the river.
And God lent in close to me and gently said, ‘That’s what I do when you come back to your first love. When you return and do the things you did at first. That’s my promise. That’s my grace. That’s my love.’
It's still so beautifully true.
So this is my journey tonight.
And this is my prayer tonight.
I will return to my first love.
I will dance in the river.
Because there’s no where else I’d rather be.
Oh, and today my bed's arrived… Which means… It's move time! If you're in Sapporo, come for tea soon!! 🙂