first (adjective): being before all others in time, rank, and order of importance.
I usually love being first. Being first is an acknowledgement that you are the best or that you’ve won something. When Randy Travis first debuted as a country artist , I entered a radio contest sponsored by WKML (the premiere country station in my hometown). The album “Old 8 X 10” had just been released and to win the contest, you had to write a story about a photograph. I wrote about a my great-grandparents whose photograph hung in my Granny Brook’s living room. To my great surprise, I won! The prizes included front row tickets to the Randy Travis concert, a hotel package, a limo ride to and from the concert, and a chance to meet Randy himself. In someone’s opinion, I wrote the best story so I got “first prize.” Sometimes, it’s awesome to be first.
Sometimes, though, being first is a scary, exhausting ordeal. It’s not a “prize” at all. Sometimes being first means that you have to go things alone, with no one telling you what will happen or how things will turn out. Going first can create anxiety and discomfort. Being first is, at times, a double-edged sword.
“We love each other because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NLT
Jesus was first to love us, even before we knew Him. Being the first (and only) Savior was both a blessing and a curse. God wanted us to have eternal life and the only way we could receive it was for Jesus to forfeit His life for our souls. Our souls are dirty, sinful, and selfish things. Despite that, Jesus gave His clean, sinless, perfect self as a “trade in” for our souls. When all is said and done, Jesus thought we were worth it. He put us first, when we deserved to be last. He remembers us when we deserve to be forgotten.
One of my favorite hymns of all time is “O How I Love Jesus.” It was written by Frederick Whittfield around 1847, when he was a seminary student in England. He was a wonderful poet with over thirty successfully published poems. “O How I Love Jesus” was the first of his poems put to music. Within five years of its composition, “O How I Love Jesus” was being printed in small tracts. Because printing was expensive and not available to all congregations, “O How I Love Jesus” was so popular, it was “line taught” (the pastor or the song leader announces the lines of a song as it’s sung) in churches all over the United States and Europe. This is a song that resonates with Christians because we marvel at how great the love of our God is for us. Don’t you just love the words of the refrain?
I found a great instrumental arrangement of “O How I Love Jesus” on YouTube. As you read the words and listen, remember that Jesus put us first so that we could live with Him forever. Indeed, sometimes being first is an awesome thing.
“O How I Love Jesus” (Traditional/Instrumental) http://www.youtube.com/embed/Lek_QbGv390