|New Year’s Eve, 1976, was a night I will never forget. The youth group at Loray Baptist Church was having their New Year’s Eve party at the home of one of the church members. I was so excited about being a part of this group and all the close relationships I had developed over the years. And it was great to have a safe place to go and just celebrate another year.
We had a large youth group with boys and girls from the preteen years all the way to the “barely a teen.” I was a suave 17–year old high school junior, leader in the Boy Scout troop, left–fielder of the softball team, and narrator for all the youth choir musicals. Mister Confidence and Popularity. But then it happened. During the New Year’s Eve party, I saw this girl. She was new to the group, so I didn’t know her yet. But I was awestruck by her. She was the prettiest girl in the eighth grade in all of Gaston County. And I had to meet her.
When I walked up to introduce myself, our eyes met and all my confidence as a worldly 17–year old quickly drained from my body. My palms began to sweat. My face was flushed.I was unable to form even the most basic coherent sentence. I fumbled around with my introduction and, since I had a deck of playing cards in my hand, I decided to show her a new card game. Fifty–two card pick up. As the playing cards flew into her face, it was appar-ent that she did not see the humor in my introduction. And she abruptly turned and walked away. I guess I wasn’t so cool after all.
Through additional investigation I learned that her name was Ronda Russell and she was 14 years old. The age difference was a little concerning, but I wasn’t worried. Afterall, when I am 59, she will be 56! Shouldn’t be a problem!
In spite of my initial botched introduction, God brought Ronda and me together and for the next four years we searched for every possible excuse to be together. We loved it when the church had a special service or event be-cause that meant we could spend an extra two hours together that week. It was my first love and it was magical. There’s no greater feeling than knowing that there is someone out there who cares about you and is always thinking of you. How great it is to know that you will never face anything alone and that you will be able to share all the ups and downs of life together.
Remember your first love? Remember the magic, the excitement? Even in our brokenness, God gives us love to share with each other. But never forget that you are God’s first love. God loved you first. God held you first. God has a place in his heart that is always reserved for you. God knew you before you took your first breath. God saw your first smile. God is always thinking about you and you will never face anything without him by your side. The love of a Father runs deeply. The scriptures teach us: “See what great Love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God! And, that is what we are!” (1: John 3:1) “We Love because He first Loved us” (1 John 4:19) You are God’s first love! So, go and live with confidence as his loved children!