You know those dreams where you are back in high school or university and you realize you have an exam and you can’t remember your locker combination or the room number — or if you ever went to that class? Sometimes my life feels like that when I’m awake. I thought I was done with learning something and I find myself back in school — only this time it’s the school of higher un-learning.
This week the song “Young Love, First Love” has been going through my head.
“And the significance of that, Lord?”
“You have no idea how deep the acceptance of performance-oriented, hypo-grace, approval-seeking, ‘me-do-it-self’, busy-ness-is-next-to-godliness thinking runs. Churchianity is full of it. So are you.”
“Still? Seriously? I thought I was doing much better.”
“Pack your bags. We’re going on a love-trip.”
Ok, I’ve been thinking (again) about the warning to the church in Ephesus that although their diligent efforts are appreciated, God said they had a serious problem. They had left their first love. “However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love. Do you remember what it was like before you fell? It’s time to rethink and change your ways. “(Rev 2:4) The messenger told them to return to it or they stood in danger of losing their light (their understanding and their influence symbolized by a candle stand).
I began to realize that my secret reaction to the warning was an internal groan that even though I had worked hard all summer there was something else that should have been on the list. Oh yeah, remember to spend time loving God. Oh boy, something else to do before I can put out the cat and get some sleep.
“Think again,” He said. “You’ve got some un-learning to do.”
That’s where the song came in. (I know the word the Bible uses is agape, the type of perfect all-giving love God has, and not eros, the type of love that makes us get all hot and bothered and more than a little self-conscious, but I think the connection is still there.) I remember telling a lonesome young woman bemoaning her unattached state, that when people fall in love they actually fall in love with themselves in a way. When we see ourselves through the eyes of someone we respect and who thinks we are worthy of their time and attention, we are willing to lower our barriers a little. Sometimes we misjudge the quality of character in a person and find ourselves the object of the attentions of some obsequious little stalker who will hit on anything, but we learn and move on. But the attentions of someone we admire? Wow. Weak knees and butterfly stomach time. It can be a little disorienting. (So how to get a person of quality to fall in love with you? Become a person of quality yourself.)
When we fall in love we are constantly aware of that person’s presence. We know exactly where they are in a room without even looking. We are fascinated by everything they are. We want to know everything about them, their values become our values, their heartaches become our heartaches, their victories become our victories. We talk only about them and we need to be near. We have the urge to merge.
To be loved by someone you deeply respect who thinks you are worthy of his sacrifices, who can make you realize how amazing you are? Wow! He or she will inspire you to become bold and become a better person and do greater things simply because he or she believes in you.
You don’t fall in love with someone who makes you feel ashamed, or ugly, or unable to change. You fall in love with someone who makes you aware of your own potential -simply because their very presence in you life makes you realize you are of value to someone important. (Are you listening, Self?)
The lines of the song that keep running through my head: Young love, first love, filled with true devotion.Young love, our love, we share with deep emotion.
That’s it. He’s asking us to return to true devotion and deep emotion by letting him love us the way he wants to. Returning to the source of our motivation, knowing that the Being of ultimate quality, and worthy of infinite respect longs for us, means we can start to see ourselves through His eyes. He shows us how amazing we are; he emboldens us to become more than we ever thought we could be, because he says we are worthy of his attention, his time, his sacrifice.
When we do we will long to become like our beloved, to make his priorities ours, to understand his heart, to share his secrets and rejoice in his victories. When we return to our first love, we live and move and have our being in Him and our sanctified imagination is again motivated by His love -his perfect, unselfish, giving love.