Dialing a Rhode Island number is something I have never done before. Until today.
My adventure in Intern Land brought me right to these 401 numbers. I dial them up. The first person is a Sons of Norway member that gets people involved in their heritage organization. Super exciting. Pull out your bunad and cod fish, we're doing things Norway style! The second is a 91-year-old member whose great uncle began the fraternal organization over a hundred years ago. I get the answering machine with him. The message ends as follows. “Leave your message for Ed and Ruth after the tone.” In an aside he says, “Ruth was that ok?” BEEP! He gets back to me later.
The final call is put in to a man named Ashley. He’s an Episcopal reverend who attends to the sailors that come into port in Cranston. I catch him during lunchtime. He’s sweet, with an excitement for Norwegian heritage, though he is more Danish than Norwegian. He asks me to forgive him of that being that we are a Norwegian publication. I have the same problem. I’m more Danish than Norwegian as well. Forgiveness granted.
What he talks about isn’t extremely interesting until he discusses a trip this younger member took biking across Norway this past year. I listen attentively, though none of this will be included in the story (I am only a fact checker after all). Here’s where my attention is piqued. He says, “Some people come back from a trip to Norway and they are just so excited about the new experience, even though they may have invested in their Norwegian heritage before.” He goes on to say that they want to share all about it at meetings.
And it hit me: this is how I feel about God right now.
I have known him for a long time. I have traveled his ways and wandered away here and there. But when I actually approached his throne in January, for the first time in a long time, it was brand new. Its like everyday, I feel his intense love for me, as if for the first time. I feel him with me, guiding me to obey and trust in his plans. I’m so excited I just want to share it with everyone.
I assume that when Paul writes in Ephesians about God’s love that he’s explaining the pure and innocent first love we have when we acknowledge God in our lives. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, 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.” Ephesians 3:17-19
I think part of this whole God's love thing has made me feel more innocent. All the crap I have done or gone through just doesn’t matter. It was all forgiven and now as I walk in obedience, I am being restored to this pure and innocent childlike Joy. Like the one who remembers God’s love the first time I felt it. The first time I saw his face and felt his presence.
This has manifested itself in other ways. My co-workers at Lifetime Fitness have been pretty forward lately in saying how old I look. Tom, a man in his seventies who diligently folds towels for us on Wednesdays, was astounded to hear that I was 23 years old. “I thought you were 17.” Another girl said, “Honey, you look younger than 23.” I guess it’s not really an age thing. It’s more a God thing. When I go through these new experiences, he purifies me from the age I am and brings me to that place of childlike innocence. It’s that place that I truly want to be.
As asked in Matthew by his disciples, “Who will inherit the kingdom of heaven?” To this Jesus replies, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4
I always thought being innocent was being naive. But that isn't the case. We are to be "wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil," as Romans 16:19 instructs. In the world not of it.
So I guess my question to you is: when was the first time that you felt God’s presence? Yesterday? Three years ago? Never?
If you have, what did it feel like? If not, do you want to be there?
All the time, the world tries to hold us back. It holds us back from the fullness of joy, from peace, from real love and real hope. But with what Christ did, we can get away from it all and experience all that God has for us.
I encourage you, wherever you're at, stop and take a minute. Say to God, “Hey God, I’m acknowledging you in my life. I want to feel that love, that supernatural love in my heart from you. I want to live a life that reflects that love and innocence. And I want to love you, as well. Will you come and be with me now? Will you transform me and humble me to be more like a little child? Will you just show me your love right now.”
I’m sure that if you call he answers. Jeremiah 29:12-14, “You will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.”
Feel that first love that you felt from God. Be innocent as a child. Be blessed this week as you seek his love for you.