Do you remember your first love? You probably weren’t sure about what was happening, just that you felt attracted to him/her. I bet sometimes your attempts to express those feelings were probably pretty awkward.
Such was the case with my first “crush.” Her name was Jenny. She sat in all of my 7th-grade classes that year. I couldn’t stop thinking about her but had no clue as to how to approach her, nor the courage to do so. So, my best friend Don and I came up with a plan. He was going to go to Jenny and tell her that Steve Sabol liked her. I sat in the back of the class, Jenny in the front. As Don walked up to her, leaned down and spoke to her, I saw her give him a verbal reply. It seemed like it took Don forever to walk the fifteen feet or so back to me to give me her answer. “Did you tell her Steve Sabol liked her?” I asked Don. “Yes,” he replied. I nervously said, “Well, what did she say?” Don broke my heart by quoting her words, “She said, ‘So what.’”
After somewhat rebounding emotionally, Don and I came up with a Plan B. He was going to go back to her and tell her that there were a few other girls who were very interested in going out with Steve Sabol, but he was still giving her a chance (I know, pathetic, right?). The same scenario took place. After giving Jenny the message, Don walked back to where I was sitting in the classroom. Waiting with bated breath, I asked him what she said. Don quoted her again, “The other girls can have him.” I was devastated. There was no Plan C.
When my bride Nancy and I attended my graduating class of 1969’s 50th reunion last November, Jenny was there. I hadn’t seen her in over half a century, but I had long since gotten over the bashful shyness that I had in seventh grade. I went up to the table where her husband and some of my other former classmates were sitting and told everyone that story. We all had a good laugh.
We arrived at the 50th reunion early. There was a classmate there setting up things. Her name is Marie. When I walked in she said, “Steve Sabol! You were my first boyfriend!” That was an awkward moment, but then she proceeded to tell me that it was when we were in fourth grade. Apparently, I invited her over to my desk and shared ½ of my donut with her. Ah, true love. I started feeling proud of myself, learning that even at a young age I was generous and caring. That is until Marie said it only lasted one day. She said the next day when I came to school she looked at me and smiled, but I just stuck my tongue out at her. It was nice while it lasted.
Hopefully, like me, your love experiences have matured and grown over the years, and you’ve gained a deeper understanding of what that powerful, four-letter word, love means. It is a basic human need.
Love is a popular subject in American culture. We talk about it, write, and sing about it. Everyone wants to love and be loved. True love becomes obscured by all of the verbiage and confused by the many counterfeits that are out there. You see, true love moves beyond talk and into action. The apostle John states in I John 4:9-10 that we can see what true love looks like by checking out what God did: he sent his Son, and his Son gave his life. God’s love sends, gives, serves, feeds, heals, and dies. For God, love is a verb, not a noun.
Another characteristic of true love is that it is focused on others, not self. In modern society, we sing, “Give me some lovin’,” and we selfishly meet our needs by “making love.” Again, God provides the contrasting example – Christ came to earth to give himself for us. How can we respond to such sacrificial, selfless love? By loving God and others in the same way (see 1 John 4:11-12).
Please join me as I thank God for his great love for us, and commit to demonstrating our gratitude by giving ourselves to others, just as Christ gave himself for me and you…
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
Jenny and Marie didn’t really teach me what true love is, but Jesus did!