In Sunday School I have told this story and it is embarrassing…embarrassing to my wife.
I have a good memory or at least I think I do [of those early years] with her.
I remember how it felt to fall in love with my wife [my girlfriend at the time] many years ago. I was in high school and I remember thinking about her all day long, for days, weeks and months [maybe a year or so]. We had a long courtship and I guess that was what we needed. When we married, we knew each other pretty well.
I just remember the 24/7 excitement and it was wonderful. I could literally close my eyes and see her face. I could smell her perfume. I could remember touching her hand.
It was insane…this falling in love stuff. I have to emphasize the word falling because that was exactly what it felt like. I was in an out-of-control free fall…falling in love.
The second time I fell in love it was Jesus. That was 18 years ago. Same excitement, same 24/7 obsessive thinking but it was a bit different. Jesus was not around to see, smell or touch. But I did know I loved Him.
Don’t get me wrong, I was not worthy of His love. [None of us ever are]. But 18 years ago, I understood His love for me for the very first time in my life. I knew He cared for me and I was seeing Him move in my life in a powerful way. I had declared my need to Him and I knew He was going to meet it.
What has happened over the years with my wife? What has happened over the years with Jesus?
My love has changed.
The intense stage is over and I have had some ups and downs. We all do. Just because you love someone does not mean you will always have an intense love. Just because you love Jesus does not mean that your life will be perfect all the time. It won’t be. As you spend time with your loved one, you are trying to understand them and they are trying to understand you. For earthly companions, it is a process of really knowing the person. The dating stage is “best foot forward time”; you know you want to make the best impression you can for as long as you can. You can keep it up for a few hours but you can’t keep it up forever. You have breaks from the other person so you can be the “real you.” You know, the you that you are hiding from your loved one.
As you make a commitment to your earthly loved one, you eventually have to reveal who you are. You can’t keep up the best impression stuff up too long. You have to let the real “you” show especially if you are living with your loved one.
But what about Jesus? This relationship is a bit different. God speaking to Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” gives you an indication of a difference in the man to God relationship. Jesus knows all about you. He knows your weaknesses and strengths and He knows what you are prone to do before you do it.
So when you say “I love you Jesus” you are committing yourself to a different type of relationship than a relationship with an earthly person [duh].
But in some ways it is the same.
What happens in a long term relationship? The sparkle begins to wear off. What replaces it? Friendship…true friendship. Lifelong friendship that lasts through the good times and bad. For Jesus, the sparkle goes away also and what replaces it?
“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death” [Hebrews 6:1].
Pastor Matt Slick lists four characteristics of the spiritually immature person: spiritual infancy is lack of growth after the new birth. The spiritual infant is concerned with self rather than service. The spiritual infant is concerned with argument rather than action. The spiritual infant looks to people rather than the Master.
You may have noticed the relational maintenance diagram at the top of this post.
With your earthly partner and you heavenly Partner, you want to reach the bonded stage for your lifetime. Your earthy partner bonds will be broken by death but you heavenly partner bonds will continue after death [that is your hope].
You want to be bonded to God forever. He wants to be bonded to you.
Truly it is a love relationship that is hard to understand but it will change your life when it happens.
True love is hard to come by but when it is Jesus you love, it will sustain you forever.