There is a writing by Augustine of Hippo that I really like. I came across it early this year, and the words really stuck with me. Later I discovered that Gungor (an artist that I also really like) put a melody to the words, and I couldn’t get enough; I’ve been listening to this for about two months now, but it rings poignant today of all days.
“Late have I loved You
Beauty so ancient and so new,
late have I loved You!
Lo, You were within,
but I outside, seeking there for You,
and upon the shapely things You have made
I rushed headlong,
You were with me but I was not with You.
They held me back far from You,
those things which would have no being
were they not in You.
Augustine wrote this after finding God at 31. The words are tinged in regret, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have found an undeniable comfort in the words. That first line, especially. Late have I loved You.
The amazing thing about the capacity to love is that we love because He first loved us. I accepted Jesus when I was eight, really came to know Him when I was fifteen, and even then, even from that early age–late have I loved You God, because before I was born, You knew me and my inner truth, long before consciousness, long before I had any inkling of what love is.
He loved us first, and will always love us first. In that sense, I think we will always be “late,” in that the only way we can love God is because He first enabled and transformed us to want to. He loved us first, He loved us first. And having experienced Him and how relentlessly He pursues us, how can there be any other recourse?
Augustine puts it really beautifully:
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
You flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
You lavished your fragrance,
I gasped, and now I pant for You;
I tasted You, and I hunger and thirst;
You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.”
To love Him back. To hunger after Him that way. To be reminded of how He loved us long before, to be completely filled by this, and then to have that love spill over into the ways we love those around us.
For the days when our understanding of God’s love is skewed, or when it feels like we are unseen by those we care for, this is a reminder.
I loved you, first.
I have always loved you, first.
Happy Hearts Day.