Several weeks ago, a young man named Matt introduced himself to me at church. He had the look of someone who was trying to hold himself together, and he asked if we could set up a time to meet. Later in the week when we sat down to talk, he shared with me that his girlfriend, a soon to be college freshman, had decided to “take a break” from their relationship. Her thinking is typical for their situation as he’s moving into his senior year and with all the changes college brings, she doesn’t think it’s fair to try and maintain the relationship long distance. Long story short, the kid has a broken heart (and has given me permission to share that with ya’ll).
To Matt’s credit (and ultimately to the glory of God’s grace), he has used this difficult time in his life to draw near to God rather than run away from Him. The situation has caused him to look at his lifestyle, values, and character and ask himself how he can be better, which is a noble desire. So he decided to try church with his sister, and here at ReCAST he was confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is growing in his understanding of his need of a savior, that no matter how much “better” he makes himself, it all comes down to the grace and mercy of Jesus through His work on the cross on our behalf. And as much as he needs relationship help, his greatest need is a relationship with Jesus. He’s learning that from that position of acceptance, we then live in thankfulness to God, striving to put Him first in our lives, and loving others the way HE wants us to love them.
That point is being driven home by a book we are reading together that I read back in high school. It actually played a part in me finding and marrying Nicole and is called I Kissed Dating Good-bye by Joshua Harris. Yes, it’s a provocative title and I admit I didn’t fully implement the strategy, but what it did help me with, and what I hope it helps Matt with, is to understand that God is our first love. When He is our focus, when we put the majority of our effort into knowing and serving Him, then we are much better prepared to love others, especially romantically. If you think about it, falling in love with God is a lot like falling in love with a person. You spend time together, have open communication, show affection, give praise, serve, celebrate, give gifts, etc. This is where the concept of “dating God” comes from. People date God when they decide to take a break from pursuing romantic relationships with others in order to put that time and energy into similar activities with the Lamb of God, the Bridegroom of their souls.
This time I’ve been spending with Matt on this topic has been so helpful to me (even as a married man), that I’ve decided to make this the theme for the fall in Gravity, our High School Ministry. We’ll be talking about what it means to fall deeply in love with God, and how our romantic relationships will be both constrained and improved by having God number one in our lives. Whether or not Matt or any other student decides to officially “date God” or not, my hope is that all of us would be greatly affected by the amazing love and passion the Lover of our Souls has for each one of us.