First Things First

We all experience “firsts.”  Our first breath.  First steps.  First scraped knees.  First bicycle ride.  The list goes on and on.  Some of our firsts we cannot remember.  Small children are learning new things every day, often every moment.  Although we may not remember many of those personal “firsts” we experienced as children, some people around us will remember.  Some of those first times can later come back to haunt us when a parent relays particularly embarrassing experiences we went through.  I enjoy telling stories to my children of things they did when they were young.  Some of those things at the time were trying to me as a young parent, but now are warm and amusing memories.

As a grandmother, I can now laugh at things my grandchildren do that to my daughter, right now, are difficult.  Like trying to teach my granddaughter to eat real food and more of the food ends up on the outside of her instead of on the inside.  Or potty training.  Or the “terrible twos.”  My daughter’s frustration at my grandson’s strong personality I can take pleasure in, knowing that in the future she, too, will look back at these times as funny memories that she can later embarrass him with.

Many of our firsts we can clearly remember.  Perhaps our first crush.  First job.  The first day of marriage and the first day of parenthood.  I vividly remember the first time I held my newborn children.  The overwhelming flood of love that washed through me is something I will never forget.  Many moments we experience will forever be etched into our minds because of the fact that they were memorable moments that happened for the first time.

But not all of our firsts are pleasant memories.  Some are, in fact, very painful.  When we see a loved one close their eyes in death, it’s the first for them as well as for us.  The first birthday or holiday without them can be extremely hard to endure.  I heard a lady on the radio relating how her Mom loved Sundays.  After her mom passed away, that first Sunday was hard for her and her family.  Something we do routinely suddenly feels strange when a person who had long been a part of that happening is no longer involved for the first time.  The last thing that happens always leads to the first time for something else.

We all had a beginning and we will all have an end on this earth.  There is One, however, who had no beginning or will ever have an end.  Of course, I’m speaking about our Lord.  In Revelation 1: 8 it says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (NKJV)  As believers we have the assurance that the one who created us knows all about us and about all the firsts and lasts that we will experience in this life.  Things often take us by surprise, but they are not a surprise to our Heavenly Father.

Have you ever thought, though, that the One who has always been, has experienced some firsts Himself?  Even though He knew from the foundation of the world everything that would happen, God did have to send His Son to the earth as a human being for the first time.  Can you imagine Jesus praying to His Father for the first time as a human?  Can you imagine Jesus, God in the Flesh, having to endure the pain and suffering of living in a fallen world, the world that He created, instead of living in the splendor of heaven?  How about the One who gives life having to give up His?  Can you imagine Jesus, hanging on the cross, being separated from the Father for the first time in His eternal life?  As believers we will never have to experience that first of being separated from God because once we accept Him as our Savior, nothing can separate us from Him.  Not even our death.  All of these firsts that Christ experienced I can’t imagine being thought of as good.  But it was all of God’s firsts that makes all of ours perfect.  Even our “bad” firsts are allowed by Him to make us more like Christ.

This is a lengthy passage of scripture, but I hope you will read it in its entirety.

Romans 8:18-39  New Living Translation (NLT)

“18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Conclusion

Our firsts in this life are both positive and negative.  The very last first we will experience will be our death.  But then imagine all of the firsts after that.  The last first we experience here, will be the start of a multitude of glorious’ firsts in heaven.  The very moment our eyes close in death, we will see our Lord for the first time.  We will get to bow down before Him for the first time.  We will get to truly worship without the limitations of our flesh for the first time. There will be an eternity of firsts to come because every day will be a new day to spend in heaven where there will never again be any lasts.

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