Friday, December 25, 2015

Falling in Love with Jesus: He loved me first

Welcome Brandy Heineman to the blog today! She's here to share her story about how she first fell in love with Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. 

Brandy's story reminds me of the song, "When You Walk Through the Water" by Allison Durham which is based on the Bible verses in Isaiah 43, which Brandy quotes in her story.

I hope you will enjoy reading Brandy's story. It is the final post for my blog's Falling in Love with Jesus series. I found it to be very inspirational. I pray that Brandy's story and Allison's song will encourage your heart. 

~*~
He loved me first

A Falling in Love with Jesus story written by Brandy Heineman

Ah, love. The inexhaustible supply of poems, songs, romance novels, and love letters written in just about every language seem to suggest that words hardly do justice to the big, heady thrill ride of falling in love, though we never seem to tire of trying.

When I met my husband, I was not-quite-recovered from a broken heart. I enjoyed the time we spent together, but he had to put his heart on the line first before I came around to loving him back.

As it turned out, our love modeled what it meant for me to fall in love with Jesus.

Michael and I started dating in the summer of 2004. When we started getting serious, i.e., attending church together, our Sunday School teacher shared a thought that I had never heard before when he told us, “The Bible is God’s love letter to mankind.”

I probably nodded in agreement and smiled, liking the way that sounded. I knew John 3:16, of course. God had proved His love for us by sending His Son to die for our sins and reconcile us to Him.

Nonetheless, that was the first time I’d heard it put quite that way. Although I had attended church many times before and often prayed, I did not possess a deep well of Bible knowledge at the time. The idea of the Bible as a love letter sounded good in theory, but if you’d asked me for specifics, I doubt I could have offered any.

That pleasant idea tucked itself away in my memory and waited patiently as Michael and I became members of our church in 2005 and married there in December of the following year. I remember the verse I used on the front of our wedding programs: 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”

In the meantime, I began taking Bible study classes as I was able. I can’t say that I recognized exactly how dry my well was, but God placed the desire in me for more of His word.

That first year and a half of marriage was exhausting in every way imaginable. In roughly chronological order: my car quit immediately after the wedding, I took on a significant increase in responsibilities at work, and my husband survived a layoff only to find himself in a very different professional landscape. In addition, we had three deaths in the family, and a fourth family member nearly died.

Jesus brought us through, but it was hard. Those are the times when you really need a deep well of Bible knowledge, to pull out like a treasured love letter and reread the lines for comfort and hope. To rest in their beauty. To drink in the Living Water.

It took one of those in-depth Bible studies for me to find it, but in Isaiah 43, I saw what our Sunday School teacher had meant about God’s love letter to us. It turns out that words do just fine to describe love when they are spoken by our loving Creator God, to His passion and prize, as in the powerful words of verses 1-2 (quoted from NASB):


But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,


And He who formed you, O Israel,

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name; you are Mine!”

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,

Nor will the flame burn you.”

And especially the explicit, passionate declaration found in Isaiah 43:4 (NASB):


“Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you…”

I can’t describe how those words affected me the first time I read them. How they still do. If I’d had them for those difficult days—but never mind. They are tucked away in my heart and mind for when they are needed again.

In closing, I’ll offer a thought that occurred to me as I was sifting through memories and thinking of what to write about falling in love with Jesus: that we would, each one of us, live our lives as our love letters back to Him.

~*~
Author bio:
Brandy Heineman loves stories of faith and family history. 

She’s a graduate of Wesleyan College and an author with Elk Lake Publishing. 

She is also a first-generation Southerner who occasionally gets caught saying things like, “Y’all want some pop?” 

Brandy lives in metro Atlanta with her husband, Michael. Find her on Twitter as @brandyhei, or visit her online at brandyheineman.com.

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