“I have loved thee with an everlasting love.”
I can recall the very first time when I saw the love of God in another person’s eyes. I was around six or seven years old when I attended Sunday school for the very first time in my life. I was invited to go with my next door neighbor, Kathy, who was one year older than me. She and her family attended church regularly. I really didn’t even know where we were going, but it sounded like fun; and it was.
As the two of us entered into the Sunday school classroom, the brightly beaming sun rays lit up the majestic stained-paneled window. I was greeted by an older, lovely woman with a smile that seemed to radiate straight from the throne room of God. Without any signs of condemnation or a judgmental look upon her face, she actually hugged me as my friend introduced us. I have never forgotten that moment in time. I was accepted; truly accepted for just being alive. What a grand and glorious feeling.
I have asked God a million times in my life why I felt so different, unloved, and rejected at such a young age. Until this day, He has never chosen to reveal the early on dark feelings upon my life. Even as child, it seemed that I always had to “work” hard at being loved by those around me; a conditional love placed upon my life. Spankings and harsh words were often given, but there were good times, too.
At nine years old, my parents moved to a new home. Until this day, I have never seen my friend who invited me to go to church with her, but I have never forgotten her. Within days after moving into our new home, one of our new neighbors, Mrs. Townsend, God rest her soul, visited our home and invited us to her church. She offered to take me to Sunday school with her son who was my same age. For some reason, I can still recall getting into her four-door blue Ford that first Sunday morning and riding in the backseat to church.
But, even more exciting is remembering the first time I walked into the junior girl’s Sunday school class at First Baptist and meeting nine of the prettiest and sweetest girls on planet Earth. Several of those same girls are still my precious friends today; one my very best friend. And, just like the teacher at the other church, my new Sunday school teacher was just as pretty and reflected God’s love in every thing she said and did. I can also recall the several different pictures of Jesus hanging on the walls. To me, He looked so kind, caring, and loving. In the pictures, all of the children appeared happy to be around Him. The entire environment of that church made me to feel safe and loved.
Over the next several years, I developed long-lasting friendships with several of the church’s families. Each had a huge and significant impact upon my life. Somewhere around eleven years old, after attending a week of Vacation Bible School, I walked the aisle the following Sunday morning to accept God’s Love into my heart. I was so excited, but it was short-lived. When I arrived back home to tell my mother the wonderful news, she insisted that I had only gotten saved to get attention for myself. Thankfully, within a few days, the Pastor of the church came to our home and assured my parents that my decision to follow Christ appeared to be very genuine. He invited them to the church and discussed my being baptized. I could hardly wait, even though I am quite sure I didn’t know the complete theological purpose behind being baptized. All I knew is that I felt so loved and on top of the world when I was at church. My parents attended my baptismal service and actually joined the church that night. I was so thrilled that I erupted in tears. I just knew it was something wonderful happening.
My parents attended church fairly regularly for nearly a year before other interests pulled them away. Thankfully, shortly after I married, they joined another church and became very faithful members holding several offices in the church. I saw both of them change from that time on and my children and grandchildren know nothing more than having wonderful, church-going grandparents. I am almost certain that my mother’s beautiful smile welcomed her Sunday school students for many years….And, my dad used his talents to help coach the church’s softball team where so many young boys loved and admired him, and he chaired several committees as well…Ain’t God Good!
See, God’s love is an unconditional love…And, it is a never-ending love. It changes people from the inside out. Maybe not in our time…but definitely in His… We all fall short of God’s Love….But, God’s Love never falls short upon us….And, the title of the very first Gospel song I ever wrote is, “God’s Love.” “God’s Love has found a new home.” It is my hope and prayer that His Love has found a new home in your heart as well.
Remember, God Loves You,
Lin T. Rollins, Author