My First Love - Part 3 of 4
Say you have a bad habit of watching way too much TV. Maybe you spend 5 hours a day watching your favorite shows. You decide that you want to give up watching TV for a while because you spend so much time doing that. If you just quit watching TV, you’ll probably find yourself bored and wondering what to do with all your spare time. It might cause you to wonder what’s happening in your favorite show today and tempt you to turn your TV back on. Just quitting something is very hard to do. But if I you decide to spend your time on something else in its place, (read a novel, volunteer at a homeless shelter, serve in the nursery at church, help others with homework after school, or get a job) it becomes a lot easier because you have something else to focus on. Similarly, it is difficult to simply surrender something that has consumed so much of our time and thoughts and energy without replacing it with something else. If we have forsaken our Creator and Savior, our first love, then simply giving up what we put in His place is not enough. We need to give that thing up, and then return to our First Love.
Remember the analogy of David and Jessica walking on the beach? Let me ask you this? Do you think that David is interested in Jessica simply doing what pleases him because that’s what she’s supposed to do? Of course not! It would be better for her to do what pleases him because she loves him. No one wants to be in a relationship where their spouse is only there to serve them. In the same way, God is concerned about our motives for why we do what we do. Do we read the Word of God because we should or because we love God? Do we go to church or spend time in prayer because we should or because we love our Creator more than anything? If you only do these things because you “should,” then I would ask you to quit doing them now and beg that God would change your heart first and give you true love for Him. If you do what please God without love for Him, you are just like the Pharisees, and that is not a good thing. We must learn what Jesus gives us as our greatest commandment: “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Jesus said to do this and love your neighbor as yourself and “all the law and the prophets hang on these commands.” (Matt 22:40). Every other thing, every other command in the Bible falls under this one! If you are like me, then you have been taught backwards. We have been taught how to do so many things that make us look like we are passionate about God and are somehow expected to fall in love with Him in the process. Instead, let us seek God with all our hearts, and learn about Him, get to know Him, and fall in love with Him, and NATURALLY we will desire to serve Him, because we love Him. It is freedom! Freedom from rules, freedom from the law, and freedom to simply be in love with God our Creator, our Savior Jesus, and our Helper the Holy Spirit.
But this concept of falling in love with God seems so unattainable, doesn’t it? How do you fall in love with God anyway? Here are a few practical things that have helped me to fall in love with the person of God. They honestly look a lot like what you would do with a guy if you were dating him. I pray that they would help you to fall deeper in love with who God is as well.
It is crucial to be honest in your relationship with God. If your relationship with anyone isn’t based on how you honestly feel, it will never go that deep. This means that if you don’t really care about God that much, then tell Him. If you want to marry someone way more than you want to know God more, then tell Him. If you are mad at Him, tell Him! And don’t be shy about it. If that means spending some time alone to yell at God and cry and ask Him why He’s allowed things, you need to do that. Honesty is huge. There are many times that I will wake up and write in my journal, “God, I really don’t want to read your Word today or even spend time with you. I am so busy today, I just would rather do other things. Please change my heart and help me to long to be with you.” It is important to ask God to change your heart. If you don’t ask, then He has no reason to change you.
I write out my thoughts to God a lot. That's what you would do with a guy if you were dating him and getting to know him: you would tell him what's on your heart. So do the same with God. I really like writing because it helps me to not daydream while I'm praying and to stay on one train of thought... similar to if I were talking aloud to Him. (And sometimes I do talk out loud to God when no one is around.) Some of my best times with My Heavenly Father have been sitting outside with my journal and writing to God my thoughts about life, love, friends, guys, my struggles, my joys, and asking Him about Himself. And I would pause in between to simply enjoy the beautiful scenery around me and think about how God made everything I see with his own hands.
Think about God
This is one thing we do with guys so easily but not with God. We think about guys, we dwell on thoughts about them. Spend some time thinking about God, how He is the Maker of who you are, the Creator of the World, the one who saved you from eternal separation from Him. The reason that I am scared of conflict is because of Him, the reason that I love to play violin is because of Him, the reason that I love to be outside is because of Him.... He created all my ins and outs and it’s so fun to think about why He did and why He thought I would be most beautiful to Him if He made me this way. Think about the way He cares so much for you that He sent Jesus to die to make a way for you to be with Him. Think about how He is jealous for your love. If you can even set aside 15 minutes each day to just "day dream" about God, that is a great start.
Meditate on and memorize scripture
One of the best ways to truly get to know the character of God and His ways is by memorizing scripture. It is so powerful! If you can find a few verses that remind you of how much God cares for you and loves you, then try to memorize them, or write them on note cards to carry in your purse. Then you can read them each time you feel lonely or unloved or like you need a guy and ask God to make himself real to you that day. Look for verses that speak of God’s character and personality. Meditate on them and try to understand what it means when it says, “God is love,” or “God is holy and mighty.” These are a few of my favorite passages: Psalm 77:13-15, 84, 89, 91, 139, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 12:9-10, Ephesians 1:6-8, 2:4-9, Philippians 3:7-9. Learning the Word of God is like learning God’s language. The more you know it, the easier it is for God to speak to you. You know more of His “vocabulary.” I promise as you start getting to know it, you will hear Him speak to you more often.
ASK! And you shall receive
God says to ask and you will receive (matt 7:7) but so often we don't ask! So when you think about it, just say a quick prayer, a specific prayer, to ask God to reveal himself to you in a new way that day, or to speak to you through the Bible, or to help you fall in love with him. You will be surprised how much simply asking does... =)
Look for Him
Often times, God is speaking to us way more than we think. We’re usually too distracted to see it. I went to a high school with 4,000 students. So in walking through the halls, there were a lot of people I didn’t ever notice. One of those was a guy I knew my junior year. I never noticed him in the halls all 3 years I had been there so far. But once I got to know him, I developed a crush on him. As soon as I started to like him, I began to see him in the halls all the time! It was because I was looking for him now. The same is true of God. Often times He is trying to speak to us, but we don’t see it because we are in love with something other than Him and distracted. Through-out your day, direct your attention to back to God. If you have a watch that beeps every hour, use that beeping as a reminder that God wants to speak to you. Every hour when you hear it beep, ask God to speak to you and remind Him that you want to hear. Use whatever means you can to get yourself to keep your focus on Him through the day and you will be surprised the ways that He speaks to you. These are just a few ways I have found that truly help me to connect with the Lord in a deep way and have provided avenues for me to fall in love with Him. But they are not the only ways! I have friends who paint, write poetry, or write music to connect with God, and I know girls who sit outside in silence to study His creation. Be creative and find someway that you can connect with God and find ways to deepen your love for Him.