Jeremiah 2:2 “‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.”
My wife and I had the pleasure of coaching our sons’ and daughters’ soccer teams as they moved from children to youth, and youth elite. Through many years of coaching, we had the pleasure of developing relationships with many kids. They came in all shapes, colors, personalities and talent levels. Some were there because their parents dragged them, while others yearned to be there. While there were many differences, one thing I found in common – each desired to be loved. The signs were not always readily evident, but as you got to know each child, they would reach out in their own way. Some would come flying looking for a hug while others just peered over from the field to their family or coach looking for a nod of approval or a smile. Some would lash out looking for anything in response, for in their mind even a reprimand would be better than being ignored in a dysfunctional home. All of them appreciated encouragement and being built up rather than being torn down. Ultimately, they desired love.
This is no great revelation – a human’s deep desire, their need for love. You won’t have to search long on the internet for Psychology papers describing the scientific proof that we need love, and that it actually benefits our health. A study in Europe analyzed men and women in Finland and found that married couples of all ages had a reduced risk of heart attack. Another study showed that married adults were three times more likely than singles who had the same surgery to survive the next three months.[i] Again, this is no great surprise to me. We all know that we desire love, and God’s love is at the top of that list. What recently stopped me in my tracks was a more surprising revelation. God has a deep desire for our love!
Why on earth would God desire or need anything from me? He is the supernatural creator of all we have. How can I, an insignificant, temporal, fading human being have anything God could possibly desire? And I’m in good company with my questions. King David asked: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
I may not be able to answer the why, but the evidence of God’s desire for our love is in the Bible. When the Pharisees got together and asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is, “Jesus replied: ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37). In the Old Testament we follow the exploits of God’s “Chosen People”. We see Moses’ frustration as the fickle people move quickly from love of God to grumbling, when their needs were not being met. In Jeremiah 2:2 God shares: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.”. You can almost feel the sadness, the hurt in his voice.
How about me? Do I still express the same love for God that I once did? I was convicted that the answer is no. Like a family member or a friend that we can quickly take for granted, God is on the top of that list for being overlooked on the appreciation front. Sure, I’m quick to ask for things, but when is the last time I just loved HIM and asked what I could do for HIM? How about you? Have you lost your first love?