Your first tooth . . . your first day of kindergarten . . . your first car . . . your first kiss . . . your first home. Life is full of firsts. We spend our lifetime taking first steps that lead to growing up and maturing into functioning adults.
Along the way, our souls are taking first steps as well. The first time we heard about God. The first time we heard the name of Jesus. The first time we saw an answer to prayer. The first time we acted to care for another on Christ’s behalf. And, yes, the first time it all came crashing down around us.
My earliest memory of having thoughts about God is asking my mom, “How did we get washing machines?” She told me that God gave people the ideas to create the things we would need in our lives. Her response was priceless because she was the first person in my life to specifically point to God.
So my first ideas about God were that he exists, he sees us, and he wants to help us. Pretty practical stuff. He sees me.
A few years later, I sat at a table in the tiny kitchen of a little house in a very small town. I was 12 years old, and the woman who had invited me to her home worked with the youth at our local church. She and her husband were quiet, steady, humble, loving people. She shared with me about Jesus, and she asked if I wanted Jesus in my life. I told her I did, and so we prayed together.
I didn’t truly know what I was doing that day. I’m sure something real happened in me, but I don’t remember any profound feeling. Looking back, however, I know this: Jesus had me. He knows me.
I had taken another step on what continues to be a lifelong journey of walking with God. I am still learning the depths of his love and care.
Many years after sitting at that little kitchen table, I attended a seminar led by a group of men who wanted us to know how much Jesus loves us. They read from John 15, and certain phrases leapt out at me:
Remain in me.
Apart from me you can do nothing.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
I have called you friends.
You did not choose me, but I chose you.
Love each other.
These words opened me to a new way of perceiving the love and care of God the Father and his Son, Jesus. I had read the Gospel of John before, but until that day these words had not penetrated my heart. He loves me.
Each of these encounters has deepened the journey that the Lord continues to walk with me. He let me know he was there at a very young age, and along the way he has provided people who act as pointers of the Way.
He’s had me in his process the whole time. I am still in-process, and I expect more layers of his love and presence will open to me as I go on walking with him.
If we pay attention, we will find that God is always initiating toward us. We can respond and continue to become more and more like him over the course of our lives.
Wherever you may find yourself in this journey with Jesus, my prayer is that you will take the step of embracing the love that he is extending toward you right here, right now.
You are seen. You are known. You are loved.