Person to Person
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2
In speaking with a close friend recently, she was sharing with me about her growing desire for understanding and living in light of God’s love. “Being loved makes one more beautiful,” she said. “Have you ever noticed how an engaged woman, a bride, someone in love…just radiates beauty? What if we by being constantly aware of God’s love for us were able to do likewise?…the giddiness of first love…the delight in its revel…the joy of being cherished…Imagine our lives…the world, and what that might say for our Christian testimony.”
Just a few weeks ago when celebrating this year’s graduates at our New Alumni Dinner, Multnomah alumnus, Nate Hettinga (BA ‘89), shared with us a similar challenge. In recounting the love story of he and his wife, Amy (Mitchell Hettinga, BS ’89—married 23 years ago this July,) and the fascination of first love, he said, “I’d love to tell you that the tingle, dry mouth and rapid heartbeat of first love is always there, but it isn’t because (as we know) other things happen in life…like kids and ministry…and crisis… and sometimes first love wanes.”
“The good news,” he declared, “is that love is a renewable resource. I am more in love with my wife, Amy, today than I was 25 years ago.” Yet, it has not been without challenges and intentional decisions to continue to focus on first love.
True First Love
A few years ago, finding himself in a place of having lost an even more valuable “first love,” Nate prayed, “God, I am so sorry that I have allowed Your Word to become a source book for work product...I’ve lost my first love.” Realizing he hadn’t been serving Jesus on account that he was passionately in love with Him, nor reading his Bible because he had something to learn from it, but because it was a part of his job.
“Jesus desires ‘first love’ status in our hearts,” Nate said. “It’s not only that He desires it…He requires it!” In Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus he writes: “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”
As Nate began reading Scripture through a new lens and grappling on a whole new level, he discovered a renewed passion in his relationship with Christ….the passion of “first love.” Imploring our graduates to make this a “first love” year, he gave the following charge: “Graduates, God is going to use you to change the world, and the world needs you…but we can’t change the world in our own strength…We have to stay close to the Savior!”
The Curse of a Biblical Education
Written on the front fly leaf of his Bible are words spoken from his father 25 years ago during their initial trip down to enroll at Multnomah. These words continue to challenge Nate in ministry today and are ones that I’d like to leave with you: “If your biblical education does not cause you to fall more in love with your Savior, it’s been more than a waste…It’s been a curse.”
As we understand and live in light of God’s love, may our lives radiate His glory and beauty. As we continue to grow in the knowledge of His Word, may we, as Dr. Mitchell once said, “Continue to fall in love with the Savior,” and as we fall deeper in love with Him may He use us to change the world.
Remembering my “first love,”
Michelle M. Peel (MA‘10, BA ’00)
Director of Alumni Relations
Multnomah Bible College and Seminary