Have you ever experienced that first-love feeling? The initial stages of romantic love are really strange… because you experience all these weird emotions that make you feel as though if there existed magic, surely this must be it! You always feel as though you are floating on the clouds every single day and there is no other feeling that can even come close, or ever be compared to it!
However, it is also a hard task sifting through the emotions as you try to identify whether the love being experienced is the agape or eros kind of love… now mixed with a whole lot of excitement, interest, feelings, optimism for the future, desires, and several other emotions. And don’t ask me how I know this… (But if you insist… it is research lol)
Anyway, so I like to examine my walk with the LORD. I like to know whether I am going forward, backwards or just in stagnation.
And this is what I have been doing this week. I began by recalling when I first recognized Jesus as Lord on my own path down the road to Emmaus. I remembered how I could not believe what I had experienced – that I had had an encounter with Almighty God. Which clearly, you can tell from the excitement of the post.
Actually writing this now in my head I am like…woooowzers! This is huge. Can you believe it? Meeting the person who created you, formed your inward parts, conversing with Him like as unto a friend, and experiencing the deep love He has for you, and then ultimately coming to the recognition that nothing else in the world matters, or will ever matter again after that moment right there… That Jesus is Lord, and, He is my lover and my friend! (I am getting excited again…like I had forgotten.)
But this moment never changes…this moment of encounter is what births this which I am calling the first love.
And this moment of encounter has occurred differently for every child that has arrived broken at the feet of Jesus.
That moment after several failed attempts of Simon Peter’s fishing career as he came up empty; when He recognized Jesus as Lord and said,
“5 When Simon Peter saw it, He fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, depart from me; for I am a sinful man.”
And when He knew for sure that His life had changed for good because Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The moment of encounter… after Nathaniel’s unbelief when He recognized that Jesus was the promised branch who was to spring forth from the stem of Jesse.
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
That moment of encounter….after Thomas’ doubts and reservations about the risen Lord were confronted by Jesus Himself.
27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
That moment of encounter… after the crucifixion of Jesus when the Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene as she wept at His tomb.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Master).
Paul, previously known as Saul of Tarsus
That moment of encounter… after the hell-bent determination of Saul of Tarsus to exterminate the whole Christian sect that was growing by the droves when He met the Lord Jesus on His way to Damascus to carry out His mission.
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.
4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Cleopas and his companion on their road to Emmaus
That moment of encounter…. after Cleopas and his companion went a whole day’s journey with Jesus by their side, conversing with Him yet not having recognized Him as the risen Lord; until the time they sat down to eat dinner and He broke bread with them and their eyes were opened saying,
29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
34, saying “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
And I wouldn’t be able to exhaust the numerous people who have encountered this glorious man Jesus Christ and have felt, handled, and seen the presence of God in their lives. The heavy burdens of life now, lifted from their shoulders because they recognized that they were known intimately and lovingly by the one who created and formed them inside their mother’s wombs. Just as He knew Jeremiah when God told Him,
Each of us who has encountered Jesus Christ, has been brought to this point. As we recognized how insufficient, poor, and insignificant we were in own ourselves through a self-knowledge of our corrupt nature and debased state —revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
And it is interesting that what we expect to find as we encounter a holy God in this state, is the heavy hand of God upon our lives, and His back turned away from us because of our filth, unworthiness, unfitness, guilt and shamefacedness. But instead, we are met with eyes of grace and mercy. A smile of God instead of the frown of God.
It is therefore not a wonder to be brought to tears when I think of such a love. When I think of the sins I had committed, when I recall the deeds of the past done in ignorance, the wicked utterances made, the vain imaginations. And then see the loving hand of God embrace me instead of rejecting me with a disdained-filled look.
14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
The reason I decided to take this trip down memory lane is because I had been struggling with a covetous desire.
Coveting: A simple definition – desiring what somebody else has. Dictionary definition – yearning after another person’s possessions or belongings.
Now, there are some little seemingly harmless seeds that settle in your heart that you never really think to be a problem at first. But slowly, they begin to sprout and spread their braches everywhere-about and before you know it they have become full-grown plants, and now, you have no idea how to uproot this huge plant.
All I am trying to say is…from the moment I recognized that I was covetous, I immediately began convincing myself mentally, that I wasn’t covetous. But my heart knew the truth. All the while I was like, “Me? Covetous no way!”
I was afraid and maybe even proud to just admit it to God and say, “God, I am covetous of this and this.”
And it has been a real warfare! So, remembering the things which the Lord had done for me, as well as the journey we have walked together with Him thus far since my encounter… did kinda make me feel like Peter —betraying my Lord.
And maybe this is why I never went to Him sooner to help address the issue. With a teaspoonful of pride, I thought – “if it really is covetousness, I could handle it myself.”
But after a long struggle of restlessness, the Holy Spirit brought me to a place of conviction and surrender. And He has been graciously assisting me to cut down that overgrown plant! Helping me to see how God has been so gracious to me and blessed me beyond words.
Counting them one by one…literally!
Firstly, with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ, choosing me before the foundations of the world, calling me blameless even when I was yet still dead in trespasses and sins, predestining me unto adoption of His beloved children by Christ Jesus (meaning He wanted me as His child legally). And all, according to the good pleasure of His will.
Additionally, declaring me to be accepted in the beloved/fold, redeeming me unto Himself, again, (legally) through the death of His dearly beloved Son, and revealing to me His will for my life that I should walk in it so that at the accepted time/dispensation of the fullness of time He will unite in one, all things in Christ both which are in heaven and upon the earth.
Shut the front door! I mean, really? Every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus? Chosen before the foundations of the world! Redeemed| Adopted| Accepted| Beloved| Blameless| Predestined| Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise|
Can you believe these statements? And here I was desiring other people’s lives, whereas, if they knew what I had, they would drop all they had to have what I have been blessed to have in Christ Jesus.
(Not even mentioning the earthly blessings)
Secondly and most importantly, with the promise that He will never leave me or forsake me… interestingly this is one of my favourite Bible verses which coincidentally addresses the issue of covetousness and being content with the things that we have.
And so, this has been the true state of my heart. And again, the ever-loving gracious hand of God who has declared in His word that if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ my precious. Well… (this is what my version says 🙂 ), but the Bible says, Jesus Christ the righteous.
What love my God! Love like a mighty flood!
And as I began this post, speaking about how we as human beings normally react when we fall in love for the first time… how we are so excited that we can barely contain it. And how the world must know of this love. But as times hops away, the excitement dies down, reality sets in, some truths begin to dawn on us, and before we know it – we cannot for the life of us figure out what the fuss was all about at the beginning! (Again, knowledge by research… lol)
And more often than not, this is what happens in our walk with the LORD. When the excitement dies down, suddenly we start to check out that other person, (for this case – new thing) which looks more appealing than God. Then, if not surrendered totally to God, the little seedlings begin to germinate and bring forth several fruits of unrighteousness. On that note, I have remembered something…
I have been reading this amazing book by A. W. Tozer called, “That Incredible Christian” and there is a chapter on ‘resisting the enemy’ where he lists a number of enemies a Christian should be wary of such as: complacency, self-righteousness, the fear of man… And he goes ahead to state the below;
“There is in us a bent to backsliding that is all but impossible to cure. The church already, lives in a hostile world. Within and around her are enemies that not only could destroy her, but are meant to and will unless she resists force with yet greater force. The Christian would collapse from sheer external pressure were there not within him a counter pressure sufficiently great to prevent it. The power of the Holy Spirit is, therefore, not optional but necessary. Without it the children of God simply cannot live the life of heaven on earth. The hindrances are too many and too effective. Other enemies, may be identified, such as love of luxury, secret sympathy with the world, self-confidence, pride and unholy thoughts. These we must resist with every power within us, looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.”
And with the understanding that Jesus loves a submissive heart. A heart that is willing to listen and carry out God’s will with joy and gladness — and this, deriving from the rebuke to the church in Ephesus.
1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:
2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
So, like the pilgrim, Christian, in John Bunyan’s book, “the pilgrim’s progress”… I forge ahead, looking behind only to remember the benefits the Lord has rendered unto me.
And as I rekindle that first love that I experienced when He called me by name and said, “You are Mine. Now and Forever.”
Image Credit: Heart Treasure Blog