Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Falling in love  

A commenter on ireneQ's site recently posed this question:

How did you fall in love with God? In an instant, or through ongoing exposure and getting to know him better? Or, because of fear of the consequences of not loving him?

I'm taking the question completely out of the context in which it was offered, but the thoughts it provoked in my mind surprised me. As I pondered the question, I realized that I fell in love with God in much the same manner that I fell in love with my wife.

I have gone to church my entire life. I met and accepted God at the age of five. I was truly pumped about my new life for a while, then the excitement died down and I didn't pay much attention to God. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I learned quite a bit about God, but I didn't really get to know Him in a personal way. At the age of 14, I attended a youth event (known locally as Disciple Now Weekend) that consisted of groups of teenagers congregating at a house and going through two days of intensive Bible study led by a seminary student. Something clicked in my mind and heart that weekend, and I finally understood everything I had been learning about God. I finally, truly understood (at least as far as I was capable of understanding) who God is, why He loves me, and why I owe Him my life. It took me nine years of knowing about Him to suddenly fall in love with Him.

I met my wife at the age of 22, in the summer of 1994. I immediately liked her friends and felt more or less neutral about her. She felt fairly neutral about me as well (actually, she thought I was a "dud," though a harmless one). She tolerated my presence because her friends liked me. When the fall came, her friends returned to their universities in other states, leaving her and me alone with the other 50,000 students at The University of Texas. Stuck with each other, we started spending time together and eventually became best friends. I developed attitudes of friendship, loyalty, affection, protection, encouragement, and intimacy toward her.

I don't remember the exact moment, but an exact moment did occur early in 1997 when I suddenly realized that I loved her as a husband should love a wife. It took a little over two years of steady emotional development for me to reach that lightning-bolt epiphany.

I had two life-changing experiences that built up for years before exploding, and both explosions continue to resonate through all areas of my life. Thank God.