The love you had at first…

by DanWolgemuth on February 14, 2020

She was a freshman. I was a sophomore.

The very first time I had a conversation with her, it was a request for a date. I confess, not a “best practice.” Two days after that invitation and a positive response, we ran into each other at a campus-wide Valentine’s Day event. Our official date was two days later, on the 16th of February. 1975.

After the Valentine’s Day event, I asked her to go on a walk. Snow had recently fallen in rural Indiana, and the night seemed magical to me. Authentic conversation flowed. Mary was from Indianapolis. Wheaton, Illinois for me. Her faith was fresh, authentic, and compelling. Her interaction about Christ was tender and rich.

My heart raced. My mitten-covered hand found hers. And we walked, and talked… and then walked some more.

At the conclusion of the night I suggested that we repeat our walk on the following night, knowing that one day after that we would have our first “official” date. (I know, what a knucklehead to ask her for a date to a concert just four days before the event, but I digress!) She declined. Seems she already had a date on the Saturday night. My heart sank, even as my competitive juices flowed.

Sunday night, the 16th of February, it was date #1… at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Styx. Enough said.

This story. The one I just covered in 231 words stirs joy and delight and admiration and gratitude and respect and tenderness. It stirs love. 45 years later.

The energy of love. The beauty of something unexplainable quickening between two people.

And now, a reality check that admits that some of what burned brightly in 1975 is more measured, more subdued, more routine, more mature, more comfortable but…

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4, ESV)

The Apostle John, penning the words of Jesus to the church in Ephesus. Remembering back to a day when love pulsed powerfully. When love inspired courage. When love transcended reason. When love served sacrificially. A love that defied inaction. And now… abandoned.

A love story. God to men and women. God in pursuit. God with resolve. God in relationship. My hand in His.

God is love. Before Hallmark.

Whether married, single… brokenhearted or seasoned. God. The essence and definition of love. And us. His prize creation. The object of His affection. His valentine. “Be mine.” “Forever.”

A thoughtful accusation. You’ve forgotten.

Don’t forget. Don’t neglect. Don’t move on from the beautiful reality of the love you felt at first. That surge of joy. Overcoming transformation. Head and heart singing a duet. “I am loved, so I can love.”

“Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste…” (Revelation 2:5, MSG)

No time to waste. Tell Him. Whisper if you must, shout it if you can… ”God, I love you. Because you loved me first… “

Love. Stop and remember… the matchless love of Jesus.

“… the greatest of these is love.”

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Inoculated

by DanWolgemuth on January 31, 2020

Our headlines are full of the rippling impact of the coronavirus that is hitting China, and now threatens other parts of the world. With compelling urgency, vaccinations are being developed to help fight the illness in a controlled environment.

A small dose of a larger disease to ignite our immune system.

Two weeks ago I watched a movie that did much the same for me. Just Mercy tells the story of Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard trained attorney, who has chosen to invest the equity of his career in the defense of those on death row, and those who have been wrongly convicted or unjustly sentenced. In this case, he fought for the liberty of Walter McMillian, a man wrongly accused and convicted.

Bryan wrote his compelling and powerful book in 2014. I read it then, and was profoundly disoriented and disturbed by it. Real data, matched with compelling stories, stirred the residue of indifference that had accumulated in the base of my soul.

And now, one of the most significant stories in the book comes to life on the big screen. With it, an inoculation. With it, enough of a dose of prejudice, injustice, hatred, and arrogance to shake the fibers of complacency or comfort that are often a companion to my own journey.

A vaccination. And with it an invitation to step in. To step up.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
    ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
    and see that they get justice. (Proverbs 31:8-9, NLT)

Justice is God’s agenda, not the platform of a political party.

Advocacy for the poor, the neglected, the overlooked, the ignored, and yes, the convicted is not something we delegate or avoid, it’s the heartbeat of Christ. It pulsed through His veins. It rises to the top of His agenda. (see Matthew 25:31-46)

The vaccine. Enough of the real thing to ignite a righteous reaction.

Just Mercy. A career invested. A story to steward. A difference to make.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, NKJV)

A small dose, to fight for a big cause. In the name of our King.

What does the Lord require…?

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“Chapter Books”

January 24, 2020

I could hear it from the back of my 2002 Chrysler van, grandkids seizing a moment, celebrating a right of passage. The discussion centered around the ability not only to read, but most importantly, to read “chapter books.” Stories within stories. Passages that are a part of an overarching story line. A chapter, distinct in […]

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They laughed…

January 10, 2020

“…they laughed at him” (Mark 5:40) Humor was not the inspiration for this laughter. There was nothing funny or entertaining that ignited this reaction. This was pure skepticism. Arrogance, perhaps. And probably not entirely unwarranted. A twelve-year-old girl. Dead. Death picked the daughter of a prominent leader. Indiscriminately. The mourners were out. The tears flowed. Wailing filled the […]

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20/20 into 2020

January 3, 2020

Ophthalmologists and Optometrists have been the most frequently visited physicians in my lifetime. The typical vision correction has been one factor, but added to that, I have ocular hypertension, and an occurrence of a Central Retinal Vein Occlusion in 2008. This has amplified the value I place on visual acuity. The visual quality that expert […]

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The On Ramp to Christmas… a concluding thought

December 20, 2019

Hanging on a wall in our hallway, under glass, are memorable invitations/announcements that have happened in our family over the years. A wedding in Michigan in 1978. The birth of a son in 1981, another in 1983, and a daughter in 1986. Then weddings in 2003, 2006, and 2008. Invitations to hope. Announcements of joy. […]

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The best supporting actor.

December 16, 2019

On a cosmic stage, with the spotlight shining most brightly in a different direction. Joseph. But it’s Joseph who endures the crushing realization that the love of his life, his fiancé, his hometown girl is pregnant. The Gospel of Matthew records it this way… Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. […]

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The On Ramp to Christmas… continued

December 6, 2019

In 1968, after a vivid and moving dream about his deceased mother, Paul McCartney put pen to paper for his last song as a member of the Beatles. The song became the title track of the final Beatles album in 1970. Let it be… Even as I type these words, the melody and lyrics drift […]

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The On-Ramp to Christmas – Part 2 Between Gabriel and Elizabeth

November 22, 2019

Interruptions are often unwelcome, and at times frightening. But just imagine. A young teenaged girl… possibly lost in the anticipation, or fear, or delight of an upcoming marriage. Then, a voice, an exchange, an encounter. With an angel. With Gabriel. “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Mary was reeling. Not just on […]

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The On-Ramp to Christmas…

November 15, 2019

Her resume was short and unimpressive. Her passion and hope were personal and reputational. But she was clearly on the radar of God. In His plan. Indeed, God has a knack for finding obscure people and elevating them to places of cosmic significance, of eternal impact. Elizabeth. Wife to Zechariah. Righteous and good. Childless. And […]

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