Probably, we have all heard the Elvis Presley, tender-hearted ballad, “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” whether at a wedding reception, on a playlist by another artist, or even in a movie at a theater.
Throughout the song, one of the most poignant repeated lines is “I can’t help falling in love with you.” On more than one occasion, I’ve seen couples crowd a previously empty dance floor at a wedding reception after recognizing the first notes of the song.
As a married woman, listening to the words “I can’t help falling in love with you” immediately transports me back to my first memorable encounter with my husband. In fact, I don’t know any woman who doesn’t remember the first time she met her husband. It is firmly etched in her mind.
How was he different from other guys? What made him special? What were her expectations in continuing to see him? How often in a casual conversation between women will they inquire, “How did you first meet? Definitely it is a popular question at bridal showers, frequently appearing on a matching or fill-in-the-blank game.
Even more than one discerning daughter has asked, “How did you know (dad) was the one, the man you wanted to marry, to spend the rest of your life with “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part” or as an alternative wedding vow includes “to be faithful” and “to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.”
Wow! Could I say that upon rising every single morning, “I love you and honor you all the days of my life?” After all, I certainly said a form of those sacred vows with the full force of their meaning on the day of my wedding, but living them every day, day in and day out, is definitely far more challenging.
Ultimately when people ask, “How did you meet?” they are curious to know what was the key to unlocking your heart, your secret garden? What sparked a connection and kept it going? What fanned the flames of love? Was it a single moment or a series of encounters that opened your heart, reaffirming your intuition, disarming your doubts, dissolving your defenses, and assuaging your concerns?
What softened your heart to succumb to the unexpected realization that “I can’t help falling in love with you”? Was it an act, word or deed? Was he someone you felt would provide, protect, and pray with you?
Realistically, women still seek a chivalrous hero on some level, someone willing to sacrifice himself in some way to be a better man because of his sacrifice. It could be words of affirmation, acts of kindness, goodness, and generosity, selflessly spending time together, listening with full attention, holding hands, or saying, “I love you.” What resonates with the soul? Recently a friend was extremely grateful for her husband’s unexpected surprise of filling her car with gas on a frigid, snowy, winter morning. A small gift? Not really.
On a deeper more intimate level can I also say, “I can’t help falling in love with God,” my Heavenly Father, Abba, who loves me personally with an incredible, infinite, extravagant love.
Let us consider, God is not an amorphous, capricious being or cosmic force. He is “Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9 RSV). In his wondrous, unfathomable, unfailing, gracious love, he loved me personally first. In 1 John 4:19 we read, “we love because He first loved us.” Imagine, He loved us before we were born! “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). Not only did He love us first, but he sent His son, who was blameless, pure and undefiled, to die for us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 RSV).
How is it possible that God, our heavenly Father, was not only willing but actually did this for us? John tells us, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). He has loved us with “an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3 RSV). He loves us as a Father. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). As a father, he awaits us with open arms like the father in the parable of the prodigal son to warmly embrace us, not just welcome us home, but to the manifestation of His love.
When we come to the full realization that our human love falls pitifully short of “Love is patient, love is kind. . . .” (1 Cor. 13: 4-8), then that is an opportune time to pause, reflect, and recognize that no one is perfect except God, our Heavenly Father. He is not a Santa Claus lavishly fulfilling all our capricious whims and desires, but a loving Father who holds a mysterious plan of abiding love for each one of us.
Watching a deeply engrossing mystery thriller will have the viewer riveted to the screen, anticipating the next unexpected twist to the plot, wondering, “How will this all end?” Sadly, too many people turn their backs and walk away from the real mystery thriller in their lives, our Heavenly Father’s unfathomable, amazing love. They walk away from God’s love story oblivious to His incomprehensible, extravagant goodness.
In this greatest romance story, our Heavenly Father expresses His wondrous love in countless ways, a look, a touch, an act that awakens the soul, pierces the heart to His love, whether the splendor of a glorious sunrise, the wonder of the vastness of a starlit night, or the joy of a baby’s contagious belly laugh. In the hymn, “The King of Love,” we sing, “perverse and foolish oft I strayed, But yet in love He sought me.” As the “Hound of Heaven,” He endlessly pursues us so that ultimately we can sing, “I can’t help falling in love with God.”