In my experience, when you are falling in love you tend to live in the moment. You don’t process most of what occurs until after the fact. My wife and I have been married over 10 years and it still blows my mind that we are together at all. Not because of any particular reason other than how circumstances worked in our favor to cause our paths to cross. I’m not talking about fate here. I’m talking about specific events and their effect on our personal relationships.

I got to thinking about this because I was listening to Chicago by Sufjan Stephens. In the song, Stephens talks about some of the places he visited and how those places changed his life over time. The subtle implication is a parallel with salvation and how God changes us from who we used to be into something new. This caught my attention.

I have always thought of salvation as being this moment that happens. Maybe you already know the drill. You say a prayer, ask Jesus into your heart, and POW! You’re a Christian. Born again. Saved. Congratualations. I’ve talked to many people who can remember the exact time and place that they did this. They know where they were, what they said, etc… I have often felt like I am missing out on something because I don’t know these details. I can’t remember anything about it. Yet this is such an important moment if you’re a Christian. It’s the moment that you become a new creation. Right?

I’m starting to wonder if there is something more that is happening.

Thinking of how I fell in love with my wife, I can remember the exact moment when I knew I was in love. We were in her car, a 1986 Volvo, and we had just gone for a walk on the beach. Just the two of us trying to spend some time together. When we got back in the car from our walk, she leaned over and kissed me then said that she had something to tell me. I knew exactly what she was about to say and I knew at that moment that I loved her too. It is a moment that I’ll never forget. But what I realize now is that I loved her before we said it out loud. I had loved her for a long time. But it wasn’t until that exact second, looking into her eyes, that I became aware that it was true.

Falling in love is not something that happens when you say the words. Maybe it does, but not always. In fact, I’m sure that many of us have told someone we love them when it may not have been true. As you spend time with someone, share life with someone, and get to know someone on a deeper level, you fall in love over a period of time. It is something that changes you. But there is still a moment when you realize it’s true. When you express this feeling with words. Because our relationship with Jesus is just that: a relationship. I speculate that it may work the same way. As you get to know the person of Jesus and build a relationship with Him, that is when you are falling in love. And then there comes a moment when you realize that it’s true. There is a moment when you feel the need to express that love in words. This sparks an interesting question: when did you get saved? Did it happen the moment you prayed a prayer?

I only ask this question because I want to better understand the transformation that happens in the life of a Christian. Having a relationship with Christ implies that you know Him on some level. So, if you just say a few words but they have no meaning, then it doesn’t seem like love to me. It can’t be a magic spell that grants you admittance into heaven. Salvation is a change in who you are. Actually becoming a new creation. Something different than what you were before. As we get to know Jesus, He changes our hearts in a similar way to when we fall in love. Our priorities begin to change. We begin to care more about someone other than ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the moment that you ask Jesus to save you is not important. In fact, it is deeply important. After all, what would it be like if you got married but never told your significant other that you loved them? But I want to believe that salvation is deeper and more special than we may have previously made it out to be. The moment you pray that prayer is when you come to the realization that you are in love with your Creator. It is the moment when you realize that you have been cultivating a deep relationship and that you may in fact be in a place that you didn’t even realize you had reached. You may have fallen in love.
Listen to Chicago by Sufjan Stevens here. He’s a character.