Do you remember your First Love? The first person you thought you couldn’t live without – that’s how big your love was!
In the Fall, my sweet daughter-in-law was tucking her son, my grandson into my car. As she walked away, my grandson sighed, watching his mama walk away, saying, “There goes my beautiful girl.”
My heart melted. . . what a Big Love is a three-year-old’s love for his mama. . . and I remembered his daddy, his brothers. . . the Big Love they had for their mama when they were his size. That memory is stored in my heart.
I remember when. . .
they thought I was The Bee’s Knees!
The Place where Security and Comfort Lived,
The Answer to All the Questions
The Healer of Boo-Boo’s
The One who made Everything All Right when the World felt All Wrong,
The Shield who stood between them and the night terrors
The Song that Carried them to Sleep
The Shepherd of No and Go
The Maker of Good Things
The One who Knows All Your Names
and all the Whys of them
The Reader of the Road Signs and Books
The One who Knows Your Goodness and Naughtiness
Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The One who loves you to God’s Beard and Back
The One you Trusted since before you could remember.
Oh, how I miss being my sons’ First Love. . . when they saw me so much better than I am. They grow up, becoming sheepish about those marriage proposals from a three-year-old heart. I understand – a 3 year old, a 4 year old just cannot imagine a life without their First Love. The future is too far distant, too overwhelming to imagine without their mamas and their daddy’s.
They might forget. . . but I remember. . . and in the kitchen when I’m cooking, I listen for the sound of a motor pulling into the drive, the steps on the back porch and the sticky door being pushed open. . . and, suddenly, there’s grilled cheese browning, or zebra cakes being offered, maybe an Ale 8 pulled out of the fridge – all of it just waiting for fill them up. . . and my heart hums a joyful hum.
I am glad I am not their only love. . . but I rejoice when their heart calls them home. They might not realize it’s the call of that First Love – but it’s the company of it, the home of it, the comfort and love of it that draws them to the driveway, the steps, through the door. . . .
Mama’s and Daddy’s
Muddy’s and Papaw’s
First Loves All
I understand God’s love for me, for you all the more because I understand the love born with mothering. . . parenting. . . the unconditional, selfless love that grows and grOWS and GROWS. I don’t think I could have understood how God can love each of such so BIG without having loved all my boys. They don’t understand how I cannot have a favorite. They don’t understand yet, how each one brings something different to the table – something equally beautiful, rewarding, God-designed.
The Father of the Prodigal, he understood that kind of love. He loved his sons unconditionally, selflessly, sacrificially, a never-giving-up kind-of-love.
But his sons had forgotten. In their own way, each son abandoned their First Love.
“You have abandoned your first love,” ~ Revelation 2:4b
One son didn’t want his father – just his inheritance, wanted it before his father died. Then he “gathered all his belongings.” Maybe one could even say “gathered all he held dear” and left behind what he didn’t value. . . at least value at that time. I’m also sure it wasn’t a decision made in a moment. If you’ve raised a teen, you can imagine – the heated arguments, the attempts to shepherd, to open eyes to reason, harsh words, hurtful words, aggressive words. No, I’m sure home life hadn’t been comfortable for a while before his son left.
The other son, when he disagreed with his father, withheld his company due to a disagreement. Fewer words, a more passive type of walking away, but the same result.
Both sons had walk away moments – moments where they forgot their First Love. One physically walked away. The other emotionally walked away.
“They forgot what He had done, the wonders He had shown them.” ~ Psalm 78:11
That BIG First Love from their youth for their father and mother was forgotten. If they wouldn’t, couldn’t remember it, they wouldn’t, couldn’t feel it.
“They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel.” ~ Psalm 106:13
In the pig pen, the Walk-Away Son remembered his First Love, remembered his Father, remembered home, remembered a love that wouldn’t leave him in the pig pen – a love that would fill him up, make a place for him. . . yet, even this walkaway son didn’t fully fathom the depth of the unconditional loyalty of his First Love.
Despite the hurt, the rejection, the love forgotten, the father never forgot the love planted in his sons’ heart, remembered the love his sons’ once had for him. How long in the day did he look into the distance hoping to see his son returning home? Did he sit long? Squint until his eyes grew tired? Did he listen for his footsteps on the porch? A sticky door swinging open? See an empty glass of milk on the counter and think, “He’s home?”
I don’t think it was a lucky five minute glance down the road when the father saw his son, just as I don’t think it was a lucky look out a window to see the older son standing outside the Welcome Home Celebration later that day. I think the Father was always looking to reach out to his sons, always looking to meet them where they were. Selfless love does that. Neither of his sons understood the unconditional love of their First Love.
No, His First Love never stopped listening for him, watching for him. His First Love ran out to welcome him home, pull him into a great, big, enveloping, not-letting-go hug! Our boys worked out a system a few years ago, when we’d moved away from “home” for a few years and the oldest brother had married, how long they could hug when they saw each other – they came up with seven seconds. I remember them counting it out and then hands-up! I imagine the walkaway son and his father lost count of how many seconds they’d hugged.
“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
his great goodness to the family of Israel—
. love extravagant.”
~ Isaiah 63:7, The Message
In this story, the Father of the Prodigal symbolizes God. Jesus wanted us to know this about His Father – who was our Father, too.
Yes, God is the Creator of the Universe who set his bow over us in a promise to never destroy us in a flood again. Whose throne blazed with flames on a pavement of sapphire (Exodus 24: 9-11, Daniel 7:9), the train of his robe, white as snow, fills the temple (Isaiah 6:1, Daniel 7:9). God, who has a winged chariot with a lion’s face, a bull’s face, an eagle’s face, a man’s face – one on each side with wheels rimmed with eyes, watching. . . a powerful, mighty God who makes the earth tremble and mountains smoulder (Psalm 104:32).
Yet, Jesus wants us to know that his Father loves each of us like the Father of the Prodigal. . . . who despite his son walking away. . . . He remembers that First Love of His son. He waits with hope, with faith that one day his walkaway children would remember the love they once had for him, too. He wants them to remember and come home.
I remember my First Love for God. I remember that unabashed love as a child. I remember meeting God in my grandmother’s back yard and the long talks we had. I remember talking with him in the darkness that frightened me as a child – what I whispered to Him, and what He answered back. . . and I remember being frustrated with him and not talking to him for a few years. Then I remember crying out one night while I waited for my husband after work on a dark, winter Kentucky afternoon, “Show me how to love you like I did as a child.”
I remembered and called out to my First Love. Like the Father of the Prodigal, He ran out to meet me, to wrap me in His embrace, and walk with me the rest of the way home.
“Thus says the LORD, ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown’.” ~ Jeremiah 2:2
God wants us to love Him with that Big Kind of Love I’ve experienced raising my children – that intense love, trust, all-in, I-can’t-live-without-you, tuck-me-in, shield-me-from-the-night-terrors, tell-me-a-story, you’re-the-best-dad-ever, I-trust-you-with-everything kind-of-love.
In those moments when I forget, when I wander away, he listens for the sound of my return, for my steps on the back porch and the sticky door being pushed open. . . and, suddenly, being with Him is everything I needed and my heart hums a joyful hum.
What has your First Loves taught you about God’s Love for you and me?
Lessons from Ms. Judy’s Mailbox
Where are The Lost Lambs: Lessons from Samson’s Mother
A Mother and Her Masks: The Story of the Mother of the Prodigal
The Runaways Hope in a God-Made Ladder
Why Unconditional Love Rules
The Lamb Who Thought He Didn’t Need a Shepherd
The Testimony of A Broken Girl Made Whole in A Broken World