Looking Back to Love Forward

I’m writing my memoirs. I have no illusions about my life story becoming a best-seller. The recipients of my memoirs will be few. I’m writing to pass on the story of my faith journey to my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

My sister Rita inspired this project when she gave me a journal as a Christmas gift. On the inside she wrote, “I want to encourage you to write your memoirs.” So, when the television is turned off at night, I retreat to my study to record what God did when I was 20, 30, or 40 years old. I’ve titled it “My Back Pages,” stealing the title from a Bob Dylan song.

My reflections set the backdrop for a recent quiet time in Revelation. In the book’s opening chapters, Jesus shines a light on seven churches, with specific messages for each of them. His message to the Ephesian church is a mixed one, saying, “I know you are enduring [but] you have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you had fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Normally the word “repent” would stand out, but “do the things you did at first” caught my attention that morning. Writing my memoirs has reminded me of some of the things I did “at first” in October 1969 at Bowling Green University. At my new birth 45-plus years ago, the Lord used a group of friends to set my first love for Jesus ablaze.

Making friends was not an easy task for this shy and introverted college student. My encounter with Jesus changed this. I began to relish the company of other believers. Ed, Joel, Bob, Nancy, Connie, and others in The Navigators’ BGSU ministry became partners with me in this new life of faith. Not only did they set the course of my faith, but they became friends who were fun to hang with. I must always return to the partnership of faith-filled friends.

These friends held one thing in common: They loved the Bible. We were Bible fanatics. We memorized the Bible, we listened to Bible teachers, we studied the Bible, and we talked about the Bible. Immersing our lives in the Scriptures was as natural as breathing. My life is different today because these men and women challenged me to dig into the Bible. When I lose my zest for the Scriptures, I lose my first love.

Anticipation filled our fellowship. We expected people to believe when we shared the Gospel. We anticipated discovering something new from the Word each day. We expected God to change our lives. The easy cynicism of life had not cast its shadow over our faith. Anticipation is a quality I need to return to.

A life well-lived periodically returns to the first things in order to keep one’s love for Christ fresh. My first things include friends, the Bible, and anticipation. A life well-lived is a life that looks backward to love forward.

How are you when it comes to your "first love"? As you look back to love forward, what are some “first things” you might need to return to?

Bill Mowry is the author of The Ways of the Alongsider. You may contact Bill here