Posts Tagged ‘first love’

A promise: return to my First Love and I will be given to eat from the tree of life, the most profound symbol of healing, strength, longevity, stability, and faithfulness.

Revelation 2:7b
“. . . To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

I have always loved seeing naked winter trees at sunrise or sunset, golden colors spilling through the gaps between the branches. There is a “recognition” or buzz that resonates in my hart and soul. I know this image, I know its meaning, I know it value. There is peace in it, the tree and the light.

Painting by Hyunah Kim

And to imagine, there is a God tree that crosses all of time and all seasons without shame or worry, without demands or needs, carrying the abundance of both fruit and seed. The Tree of Life is self-rejuvenating, it is neither male nor female, it is both.

The Tree is protected by God.

The Tree requires my commitment, my engagement, the Tree is a Christ image, and it is further sustained by my love.

The Tree of Life is part of the symbolism of the faith and thereby, part of its mystery.

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Painting by He Qi Chin

The hard part in these verses, the first of seven admonitions to the churches in Asia under John’s authority, is the complimentary tone, the praise for all of their hard work, and in particular, their endurance and perseverance. And yet, it is for nothing without love.

Revelation 2:3-4
I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary. But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love].

This is the classic Mary/Martha conundrum [Luke 10:38-42] where Martha, the overly busy one is chastised by Jesus whereas Mary is praised, not for her “good works” but her devotion, her love.

I think about my early weeks as a believer. They were indeed like the proverbial honeymoon. I wanted to be in the Presence as much as possible. I prayed effortlessly for hours. I devoured the scriptures, cover to cover, several times over. I wanted to know God. I wanted to catch up. I had missed so much.

As a child, I was raised in the Latvian Lutheran church, and that, in itself, is not bad, but growing up in America where my heritage became more and more of an add-on instead of a way of life, I kicked against the church just as I kicked against Latvian school and speaking Latvian in the home. I did not really listen. I did not learn. And as a result, by the time I reached adulthood, I knew the Bible as a group of stories and parables. It held no life.

Many years later, in the noise and speed of New York City, miles from my hometown in Indiana, living the life I had imagined a young actress should lead, the last person I expected to encounter was the Christ.

My encounter was personal, just the Word, the Presence and me, Christmas Eve, 1979. At first, uncomfortable with my new found love, I mumbled my decision to follow this Savior. I didn’t really want anyone to know. But things do change and people saw my change and the old haunts, the old ways, no longer had appeal. In some cases, it was a test . . . not for me, but for this God I had chosen to follow. And that one was faithful, eventually removing me from each and every terror, drug habit, drinking habit, and erotica.

My first love first loved me.

But thirty years is a long time and like an old married couple, I have become somewhat cavalier in my relationship. Still busy, still faithful, but without the wonder. I am a good volunteer. I say “yes” to almost every task. I fill my calendar.

Irmgarde,” the Lord might say, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. And Mary is an example of what it means to choose what is better.

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If salvation is believing and loving the Christ without direct contact but still appropriating the benefits (covering of sin that separates us from God), that is Grace. And apparently, the old guys knew about it and were waiting for the manifestation of Him. We’ve lost the wonder that comes with waiting.

I Peter 1:10-11
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

Am I alone in taking for granted the marvel and mystery of God’s appearance in Christ to reunite human with Spirit, to recreate relationship, to begin a new age of life through the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, to inspire and encourage the walking out of paradoxes like loving enemies, giving to receive, and dying to live?

The prophets were all waiting in expectation of a “new earth” through the appearance of the Messiah/Christ. The prophets tried to prepare the way, but many of their prophecies were misinterpreted over the years. As a result, later generations began looking for a military leader, a benevolent dictator, a king of kings. The people lost discernment of the spiritual revolution that was foretold. Even Jesus’s disciples could not get a handle on the mission until after Christ’s resurrection, the greatest mystery of all, despite the predictions.

Supposedly, believers of today are waiting for a second return of Christ. But I think most of this is lip service: we may even “talk this talk” but few tangibly believe it. Besides, when someone does get the notion of an imminent second coming, he (or she) is considered a kook (and, by the way, rightly so — for now).

We’ve lost the ability to wait with anticipation. With true waiting for something huge like the second coming of Christ, there should be truth searching, longing, intense investigation, escalating hope, growing expectation, and discovery all along the way. It’s been too drawn out. We have become almost cavalier. Or, at the least, in our current time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m lumping myself in this same group and mindset. The last time I felt true expectation in my heart and soul was on our trip to Europe to adopt our children; or perhaps, when I was a child myself. Children know about eager waiting.

Our kids give us a peek at that kind of excitement regularly. Just look at young people before the holidays or at teens before a prom. They know the basics of these events, but the particulars cannot be known until the actual day. And so, they wait and wonder and enjoy. Unfortunately, for adults, keen anticipation rolls into a disappointment at the event itself.

For the last two thousand years, we have been living the event. We are part of the promise. We have been given the keys to the mystery of the ages, the Grace of God in Christ. But time has eroded our wonder. Interpretations and habits and silos of belief (e.g. denominations) have worn away the impact of the reunion between God and Human. We’ve grown bland and insipid, much like the church of Laodicea [Revelation 3:14-21].

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! [Revelation 2:4-5a]

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