On July 9, 2012 JR took me out on our first date.
On August 12, 2012 we were sitting on the dock at Town Lake when he said the words “I love you.”
I was in shock. I managed to ruin the romantic moment by pestering him with questions for the next thirty minutes. What do you mean you love me? Have you thought about this before or did those words just come out? What does that mean to you? Don’t you think this is fast?
I ended the question pestering with this, “Now that we’ve spent thirty minutes defining what you meant, would you mind saying it one more time?” He repeated “I love you, Ali.”
My response, “Thank you.” JR drove back to Dallas the next day thinking he had totally freaked me out and I would probably break up with him.
The next day I met with my friend Jennie and shared with her the events of the previous night. She basically scolded me for my response. She knew that I was over analyzing everything and that I was afraid to let myself feel love for a man. In her car I realized that I did love JR, but I had just been too chicken to do anything about it.
It was two weeks later when I saw him again that I was able to say the words to him, “I love you, JR.”
He fell in love first. He stated his feelings first. Because he loved me, I felt free enough to open myself and love him too.
As we dated and were engaged, JR made at least 30 trips in a 10 month period to see me. He chased me down in Houston, Los Angeles, and all over the state of Florida. There was no doubt in my mind this man loved me. The more evident it was that he loved me, the easier it became for me to respond in the same way. Loving JR became a natural response to the way I had been loved.
I view a lot of my relationship with God in the same way. I’m not following a set of rules. I’m not being bossed around. I’m responding in a natural way to the way I have been loved.
Paul seems to think this way about God. When he’s writing to the Ephesians he prays,
“that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”
“that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe”
Why does he want us to know these things? Because when we know how deeply we are loved by Christ, it becomes the natural response of our heart to love him back. When we know there is hope in Him, that we have an inheritance in heaven, and that in Him we have great power, it becomes easier to trust Him with our whole lives.
I’m praying today that you will KNOW the depth of God’s love for you. As you know that love, may your natural response be to love him with your whole heart.