Friday, May 22, 2015

Don't wait for a surge of love to come over you

I've preached a lot on Jeremiah 17 that talks about the wickedness and deceitfulness of our hearts. We constantly teach on intelligent faith – believing in God’s word regardless of our emotions, which means forcing ourselves to go against our stubborn feelings to truly find God. As a general rule, emotions and the heart get pretty rough treatment in our church, and for a good reason! So why then would God’s first and greatest command to His people begin with love and the heart? Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength.” Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus stating that this is the greatest command of all. 

That command shows just how important the heart is – it’s the wellspring of life. But loving Him with all our heart doesn't happen by waiting for a surge of love to come over us first. It happens by choosing to throw ourselves heart and soul into loving an unseen God, because we believe that He is worthy of our love. We choose to act deeply in love with Him even before we know much about Him, because we trust Him. We make choices that may seem trivial to others, but carry deep meaning for us and for Him, just like two people in love who constantly think of each other and can't wait to please the other just for the joy of making their loved one happy.  

It’s a command that doesn't have to begin with feelings at all, but starts with the rational decision of our mind (which is second on the list in Deuteronomy 6:5), and with all our strength of will (which comes third). It’s a command that pushes our hearts to do what they were created for in the Garden of Eden, but got sidelined. And miraculously, in the rational process of acting out that love, feelings of the heart suddenly become awakened – not fleshly emotions, but heavenly ones that are deep and sweet and strong, and taste of eternity. They motivate us and guide us and cause us to hate what He hates and love what He loves, and understand spiritual truths. Faith makes sense, and the path before us becomes clear and straightforward. It’s as if His heart melds with ours and changes our very nature.

As parents we know that palpable sweet love we feel for our children. We would die for them and sacrifice to see them well and safe. That bond is almost impossible to break. Time, age, distance, even painful mistakes in the relationship can’t eradicate it. The love of parent and child is a gift of God that allows us a tiny taste of what His love for us is like. Once you throw yourself into His arms in total surrender, you begin a bond with Him that has to be worked on in obedience, but the serving and the sacrificing loses the sensation of being a burden and become a joy. When that bond is healthy, you're the child who eagerly runs into his parent’s arms in both good and bad times, and sometimes for no particular reason at all. Obey His command based on rational faith, and then find yourself in love with Him, seeing through His eyes and desiring His desires. It’s so simple. Are you ready to go that far?

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:12 NASB)

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