"Nevertheless, I have this against you. You have left your first love." Revelation 2:4
Hello first time readers. Welcome to my heart. Lets begin.
The verse above moves me. First, it shows how jealous our God is for our love. I remember watching Oprah (I know, I know, but I'm not embarrassed) dismissing this fact as being a bad thing of God; her idea of a "no-no", that God shouldn't be that way. But as with many things about her show, I disagree. This just again shows God's ultimate desire to have fellowship with us. Lets say you have a child. And instead of this child calling you mommy or daddy, or coming to you with all there problems, they go to the mailman. The mailman is there mommy or daddy. Would you not be jealous?
And lets take it even further. This again shows God's heart for us. He wants us to seek ONLY Him in every situation, because anything that's outside of His will for us is unhealthy for us. So His jealousy stems from yet again, a deep desire to have us near Him so we're asking Him for everything for our own safety.
Wait, there's more.
I was speaking with a wonderful and beautiful friend of mine (happily married, so sorry fellahs), and she told me how the denomination, Holiness, nearly ruined her. And her comment fell right in line with my new tiny distaste for this branch of religion. See, I was raised in a Holiness church. Now for the record, I've heard stories from her about her church and those things weren't going on in my church, but the traditional religious practices were the same. No need to discuss them, but they are pretty demanding. I think I've heard more about living right than I have about grace from my home church. So on my "desiring to finish my education", I moved to Auburn University. I was away from my bubble of security. My small world shell of, "I better not be seen here with fear of someone telling my pastor", was gone. Now I was Daniel in the Lions Den of a large university with tons of ways to fall into temptation. I remember a game of Beer Pong was being played in the hallway of my apartment complex, and which I'm sure they would have gladly accepted another player if I was interested. But what kept me from it? Fear of being busted? I subconsciously must have believed that my "all knowing God" would somehow single me out the crowd and email my pastor with photos of me holding a beer can and ringing a cup with a ping pong ball.
Oh, but certainly there's more to this Christian life right? I mean? Jesus died just so I can feel bad about doing fun things? Have my church done a disservice to me if I believe this?
I was so busy worried about behaving properly for God that I was missing a big piece of Him....His love. So God used my friend Haley to take me to this church called Church of the Highlands where I met Pastor Chris Hodges. Let me just say this for the record, funny guy but even better pastor. I attended the Sunday service where he was sharing his testimony of his religious background and found life in Jesus. His humbleness immediately attracted me to him. The vision of the church immediately kept me coming back. And most of all, the LOVE OF GOD WAS BEING PREACHED.
Um, excuse me. But what is that?
Now here I am, discovering a new thing called relationship with my heavenly Father. Pastor Chris was taking us through a series and I'm learning about God in a new way. He actually loves me. I mean, everyone knows that, I mean come on. But wait a minute, HE ACTUALLY LOVES ME? This breathed a new life in me. A heart that was broken from a rejection of a father and never knew it. A heart that was looking for love from women and trying to create it through lust. No one had introduced me to meeting a Savior that could heal my heart, up until this moment in my life. So this Jesus guy? He died for a reason? I just thought it was part of the story in the Bible. Good ending if you ask me. But the cross was so much more. He died so we might be with Him again. There was a wedge in between God and man since the Garden of Eden and Jesus(God with us) came to fix that. I love the symbolism of the cross. Jesus's outstretched arms, showing one hand holding on to God, and the other holding on to Man, and creating the bridge for us to get back to the Father. That's why Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one gets to the Father except through me." John 14:6. He is the bridge to our Father. The ONLY way to reach Him.
So here I am, experiencing the cross in a new way and feeling like I've been missing out on learning the true meaning of salvation. I GET TO BE WITH JESUS! And please forgive me, but I don't preach a prosperity message. I don't want to produce another generation of Gimme Gimme Christians, wanting wanting wanting from God. Now I don't disagree with asking for favor, but I mean, come on, HE DIED FOR US. To me, that's plenty. But overall, I want to aim people in the direction of how I found Jesus to be most satisfying, and that's with Him alone. I told Him one day that if I had to work two jobs and struggle the rest of my life then I would, because overall I'm in love with having Him near me. If Paul was able to boast about Jesus in a filthy prison, then I should be able to boast and praise louder about Jesus in my life. Paul knew the secret. And now, so do I. I'm back in the arms of my first love. I'm holding onto His hands and rubbing against the scars from the nails. He first loved us. And maybe said even better, He first loved you. And the day I embraced this love and stopped telling Him I was unworthy of it--- my life changed. I became this new creation that I don't even recognize. Not by my works or any actions with soul intentions of pleasing God, but all from seeking His face. All from resting in His peace. All from spending time with Him. All from crucifying myself on the cross. It astounds me this Holy God wants to love me. And to be honest, I'm going to let Him. I'm back in the arms of my first love.