Why Jesus Gained “First Love” Status in My Life

Posted on Feb 10, 2015 in Faith | 69 comments

IMG_2717Dear Readers:  Following is my latest email newsletter which was sent yesterday–February 9, 2015. 

Today is a special day in my life.  It’s not like Mother’s Day that others would notice, or like my birthday that those closest to me would remember.  Really, no one else would know of this day’s significance.  But in my heart of hearts I’m on Colorado mountaintops, declaring gratitude and joy.  The Bible tells us:  “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts….Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles….” (Psalm 105:1-2, 5).  I love singing to Him because I am thankful.  I do remember.  And on this day that I celebrate 30 years of journeying with God, I want to “make known…what he has done” in hopes that my sharing might in some way encourage you.  Specifically, I’d like to “tell” why Jesus gained “first love” status in my life (Revelation 2:4).

I invite you to join me as I rewind three decades, back to February 9, 1985, when, as a teenager, I walked into a Christian bookstore here in Colorado Springs.  Within my mind lay “a mustard seed” of belief that there was something or someone much greater than I, watching over me, caring about me (Matthew 17:20).  I wanted to know more.  I wanted to know God.

I had come to buy a Bible.

After scrutinizing many, I made my final decision.  The cashier suggested my name be engraved on the front cover, and I consented to gold.  That hardback cover now rests in the inside pocket of my latest carrying case.  Both front and back covers came unbound many years ago, but the gilded “Laurie Gardner” remains–a sweet reminder of the beginning of my journey.

After returning home, I filled in the blanks:  “Presented to me by myself on February 9, 1985.”  Sometime later, I remember opening to the last book of the Bible:  Revelation.  “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Rev. 1:3).  How wonderful, I thought, that simply by reading I was “blessed!”  But only a couple paragraphs later, I no longer understood what I was reading.  And some of the words scared me.  My teenage brain wondered why Jesus would be described in such bizarre ways:  “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.  His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Rev. 1:14-16).

I’d pictured Jesus with brown hair, not white–wasn’t He in His early thirties?  And eyes of fire…glowing feet…a sword coming out of His mouth?  These were not warm and fuzzy thoughts for me, of the One who was maybe watching over me.

But 30 years later–three decades of life (the good, the hard and the ugly) and reading my Bible and being in relationship with God–that “bizarre” description of Jesus has turned beautiful.  Not that I will ever fully understand “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” but I am here to proclaim that knowing Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to me (Ephesians 3:8).

His head and hair being “white as snow” speaks to me now of the forgiveness and peace that can only be found in Jesus.  When “white as snow” is mentioned other times in the Bible, a washing clean is being expressed (Psalm 51:7, Isaiah 1:18).  Here in Colorado we have four gorgeous seasons, but none so peaceful as winter, when waking up to a landscape blanketed by snow.  Everything looks clean–even sparkling with diamonds because of the sun.  That clean feeling is what we get with forgiveness.

In the last 30 years, I’ve needed a lot of help in this area.  I wasn’t good at forgiving others, and I have required much forgiveness from God.  But He’s been patient with me and shown me that through Jesus a “washing clean” is possible.  No matter how unforgivable your situation may seem, I promise you Jesus is the answer.  “…where sin increased, grace increased all the more….” (Romans 5:20).

“His eyes were like blazing fire….”  Of the many times “fire” is mentioned in the Bible, my favorite has to be:  “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal over your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy as unyielding as the grave.  It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (Song of Songs 8:6).  Jesus’ eyes being like “blazing fire” speaks to me of His undying love for us.  No matter how we see ourselves, Jesus looks at us with unconditional love.  It is a cherishing more intense than anything we could imagine.

At our family’s cabin in the mountains, one of my favorite things is to build a fire and watch it burn.  Really, to embrace the “mighty flame”–to feel the warmth, listen to the crackles and pops, smell the burn, stare back at the transfixing beauty.  Yet as intense as the blaze gets, I think it’s only a spark compared to how “wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).  For us!  In a world where we can so easily NOT feel loved, it seems unnatural for God to love us so much.  It’s humbling.  But it’s true.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

“His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace….”  Do the names “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” ring a bell (Daniel 3:16)?  Friends of the prayerful prophet, these three men were thrown into a fiery furnace because of their devotion to God.  If you know the story, you know they experienced zero burns.  And that while in the fire, a fourth man was spotted walking around with them (v. 25).  Jesus.  I think Jesus’ feet being “like bronze glowing in a furnace” speaks of His walking with us–even carrying us–through our most difficult times.

Last year, when I was walking “through the valley of the shadow of death” and found my beloved dog Bella two-thirds eaten (by, we think, a mountain lion), Jesus was with me (Psalm 23:4).  Nine years ago, when I was pregnant and waiting every hour of every day for five months for my baby within to die, Jesus was with me.  Five hours after my precious Ben was born and died in my arms, Jesus was with me.  Interestingly, it’s in these toughest of times that I most remember His miracles.  Jesus meant it when He said, “I will be with you always….” (Matthew 28:20).  His constant Presence brings comfort and strength like nothing else can.

How I’d like to “tell” you what ALL of Jesus’ “bizarre turned beautiful” attributes mean to me.  To sum up the rest of the passage, “his voice…of rushing waters” speaks of His almighty power (Ezekiel 1:24-28), the sword coming out of His mouth speaks of His being the “living and active” Word of God (Hebrews 4:12, John 1:14), and His face shining “like the sun” speaks of Jesus’ being the “light of the world” (John 8:12).  For 30 years now, He’s been the light of my world.  Jesus has proven Himself over and over, and that “mustard seed” of faith continues to grow (Mark 4:30-32).

I am so thankful I bought my Bible.  It led me to my “first love.”

May we all open and read our Bibles and respond to Jesus’ invitation:  “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).  A feast is waiting!

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Dear Laurie, This is so beautiful I cried. I love the way you described Christ’s attributes as they are displayed in Revelation, & how those attributes ministered to you in your walk with Him. Congratulations on 30 years of serving your Savior, and I just want to say, I’m very glad you walked into that bookstore & into God’s arms. Love, Trudi

  2. Thank you, Trudi. I love the way you put that… that I “walked into that bookstore & into God’s arms.” Such a loving image. Thank you for taking the time to write and for celebrating with me–you’ve blessed my day:) I love you!

    Laurie

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