Intrigued? I know I was when I first read that line! Read on to find out why...
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The Love of a Lifetime
A Falling in Love with Jesus story written by Gail Kittleson
It’s easy to toss religious or “spiritual” words around. To be honest, saying I’ve fallen in love with Jesus strikes me as presumptuous. From my six-decade perspective on life, I still cannot claim to have reached this pinnacle.
If I had, I’d be a whole lot swifter to trust Him. If I had, my day-to-day reality would consist of far more gratitude and far less doubt. I’d take little slights less personally, and be quicker to offer both praise and prayers when things go awry.
After all, “falling in love” implies immersing completely in the loved one’s world and will. Unfortunately, that’s not consistently true.
To be honest, I still struggle with the same old tendencies that plagued me as a baby Christian, toddling along until I fall down, dusting myself off, and plunging in again. Oh, I’ve come a long way, but the road is no longer studded with starry, spiritually worded ideals.
I love the way my granddaughter looks at me with sparkling blue eyes and asks, “Seriously?” Seriously is one of those words with a fresh nuance in the past decade or so.
And that’s kind of how I feel attempting to delineate falling in love with Jesus, as if in one glorious moment, I lost myself in God’s ineffable love. No, the whole scenario is on a different level—we’re talking about something far beyond romantic love here.
We each experience God’s love in a unique way. I’d have to say for me it’s been a gradual falling into that eternal embrace that says, “Calm down, girl. I’ve got it all handled. I’m the God of the universe.”
Falling in love means to relax fully in someone’s embrace, and to relax involves giving yourself permission to let go. Ahhh... that nasty phrase ... let go. In other words, not holding onto—part and parcel of trusting. And falling in love is all about trusting.
Sometimes I think I’m getting worse at this, not better. I thought I’d be more patient by now, more in control of my emotions, kinder. Not so much.
The astonishing thing, though, is that He never lets go of us. This reality keeps me in wonder. His irrevocable, unchangeable hold, like that incredibly strong grip He had on Peter, nearly drowning as he “proved his faith” Jesus’ grasp entrances me.
Maybe simply to rest in the hold God has on us is what it truly means to fall in love with the divine come to earth.
I think of the times I’ve sensed that hold most. On a truck ride through the Sahel, full of dread as we headed toward our mission station. My husband Lance’s excitement radiated through the back of his seat, but how could I possibly cope with a nursing child and a toddler in the extreme heat and isolation—and cobras?
Then voila! A flowering pink bush appeared, right there in that blah world of endless sand. So like a mirage, it was, but real, and as heartening as cold water on a beyond boiling day.
A few years later, while Lance did some army training in Colorado, our children took afternoon naps in our darkened hotel room. A sudden, overwhelming awe at all life’s good visited me, each gift a separate bright pinpoint, like those tiny, lighted campfires in a Gettysburg battle display we’d visited once. On this day, each spark marked God’s tenacious, concern for my little life.
And then those times of feeling let down by people—describing those emotional wounds challenges even a writer. Yet one incident brings such comfort to me now that I hardly recall its prelude.
I felt frozen by what seemed betrayal, but as I sprawled on the bed, a thaw occurred. I’m not sure what took place in my spirit, but my Creator made his nearness real. He was right there with me. He understood, and that was enough. Micro-inch by inch, I could let go of the hurt.
Now, years later, I’ve experienced so many times like that, and seen many of my deepest longings fulfilled. But the trusting, the falling back into that love has definitely been gradual, a delicate, fragile slice at a time.
This month, I await the release of my debut novel—something about this event reinforces the deep awareness of God’s love for me. Really, truly He wants us to be fulfilled and purposeful. But for the likes of me, the falling is always incomplete—a letting go forever in process.
Gail grew up on a fifties-sixties Iowa farm and rode a big yellow school bus long, motion-sick miles to public school, where her favorite teacher instilled a never-ending fascination with books. She graduated from Wartburg College and earned her M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language at the University of Northern Iowa, taught college expository writing, and facilitates writing workshops whenever she can.