First Love, Lasting Love

wedding M & KA bride and groom gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes as they say their wedding vows. Rings are exchanged and a romantic kiss seals their pledge. Emotions are high as they celebrate with friends and family, enjoy their honeymoon, and set up their first home. One day they wake up and realize the person they married is not as perfect as they first thought. Their annoying little habits and character flaws have dampened the fire of first passion, and now love has become a deliberate act of the will rather than the soaring emotion it once was. Years later, after sharing the ups and downs of life, they realize the first heady passion of their love passed quickly but the settled, mature love which grew out of it has depth and strength they prefer.

On more than one occasion in God’s word, our relationship with Him is compared to a marriage. The Lord told Jeremiah, “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me through the desert, through a land not sown.” (Jer. 2:1-2) God wanted to remind the Israelites of the close relationship they once enjoyed with Him.

Do you remember the early days when you were filled with the wonder of Christ forgiving your sins and accepting you as His child? Your heart resonated with prayers of praise and the Bible came alive with truth and wisdom. You wanted to tell the world about your new friend, Jesus, and what He did for you. Like a newlywed, you were aglow with blossoming love.

Just as with human love, this kind of euphoria cannot be sustained indefinitely, but that does not mean love for God will become stale and passionless. Rather, it transforms into a deeper more committed love. As in a marriage, communication with God, learning about His character and purposes, experiencing His faithful presence in difficult times, finding His promises trustworthy; these interactions with God send the roots of a loving relationship with Him deep into the soil of the soul.  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out is roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer.17:7-8)

As in a marriage, there will be mountaintop moments in your relationship with God. Answered prayers, intimate worship, or new discoveries in His word will further strengthen your bond with Him. But there will also be times of dryness and distance, when He seems to be unreachable. This is not the time to give up. Say to God, “restore to me the joy of my salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Ps.51:12)

The key to a lasting love relationship with God lies not in pursuing emotional experiences, but in cultivating strong roots through communication and faithful resolve. “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (Jude 21)

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