I came home from out of town late last night so I got to go wake up the girls and surprise them this morning. Grace gave me a big hug with a beautiful smile on her face and with total joy said “Mommy’s home! Did you have fun coming home?” Then when Bekah saw me, she started kicking and laughing and quickly climbed up on me like a spider monkey where she held on tight for about 20 minutes, hugging me and laughing.
I am adored by my girls.
In a way that I don’t deserve, in a way that is precious and humbling to me, in a way that brings tears to my eyes. It is wonderful to be loved.
This morning I was thinking about how my feelings towards my kids often remind me of how the Lord must feel about me, and that it would therefore make sense that my kids’ feelings towards me should remind me of my feelings towards the Lord. But I have to confess – I don’t know that I adore the Lord in the way my kids express adoration towards me. I don’t know that I long for His presence when He seems far away, or delight when I am allowed to come into His presence, the way my kids delighted in me this morning. It is a humbling thought. He, after all, is deserving. He has given me every good thing in my life. He delights in me. He created me. He has rescued me. He provides for me. I see evidence of His goodness and His love everyday. Only because of His grace do I exist. Yet I don’t respond in adoration like I want to, or like I should.
So what do I do about that? What happens when I want to love the Lord, want to respond in adoration, but find my heart cold?
This morning I went to the Psalms for answers. The Psalms are often directly written to the Lord, and are full of praise and adoration. Around that same time, a friend posted this on Facebook:
Mark 12:30 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Read John 8:44. Satan wants to deceive you about God. If he can distort your idea of God, then beyond the shadow of any doubt he has you in everything else.
What does it mean to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind? Start with focusing on who God is, not on what we want Him to be – we are HIS Creation.
I am so grateful my friend posted that – it was directly for me today. So I look up these passages – and the entire passage of John 8 is a tough passage. It is basically an argument between Jesus and the religious Jews in the temple about who is right. Either Jesus is right and these people are whitewashed tombs, or the Pharisees are right and Jesus is a false teacher. This falls into that “Jesus is either the Son of God, divinity in human form, or he is an evil, crazy, lying man” argument. It really is true – there is no grey area with Jesus. He can’t possibly be the “good teacher” so many people dismiss him to be. Look at the passage in John 8. Jesus uses some tough language with the Pharisees in this passage. In verse 23 He says “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
So what does this have to do with loving God? Well, there are three things that I have found are key in loving God:
To love God we have to know who He is. I love Justin because I know the great man he is when nobody is looking. I love my mom because I respect the woman she is and aspire to be like her. I love my dad because I know his heart and it is tender and good. Jesus is saying in John 8 who He is. We have to be good with that. He is who He is. He is unchanging. He is God and we are not. He is in control and He does what He wants for His glory.
To love God we have to be granted faith. If you look at John 8, verse 30 says “Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.” Jesus is not giving a warm and fluffy invitation like we so often hear in church today. He is saying tough truths about who He is and who God is. And yet people are trusting Him. It is because their eyes are being opened – God is showing them favor by revealing His son. In that same crowd, many people heard the exact same words and thought he was a crazy, demon possessed man. Their hearts were actually hardened. Jesus, in verse 42, talked about this. Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Man this passage is hard to wrestle with. We love Jesus because God is our Father. It is a matter of revelation. I really respect Billy and Cindy Foote, and I heard Billy Foote say one day that if we don’t love God, we better get on our face and beg Him to allow us to love Him, beg Him to grant us the faith and the love we desire. We can’t conjure love, we can only be granted it, as a gift.
We can’t love ourselves, this world, or money and God at the same time. We only can serve one master. Luke 16:13 says No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money). We are really simple people – we can only do one thing well at a time. So we are either about God and His agenda, or we are about something else.
When I feel my heart is cold, I have to start examining what I do love. Often for me – that is where the answer is. I know God – I know who He is and I love who He is. I see Him at work around me. I know I have been granted faith through no merit of my own but through His grace – I believe what others think is crazy and I base my decisions on an eternal focus and not an earthly one. But I often will trade in my first love for something unworthy – I will often begin to serve the wrong master.
Revelation 2 describes where I am: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
So today I am repenting of the love of self and the love of money and security that has grown in me. I am repenting of this desire to be in control. I am repenting of my cold heart. I am remembering the mercy of my Father. I am dwelling on all He has done for me, and I am repositioning my focus and my adoration on my Father, where it belongs. So many of you do this so well. I see your faith and your love for Jesus and it inspires me. Please pray for me – that my first love would be renewed. That I would respond to my Father with the adoration that He deserves. I want to bring joy to His heart the way my sweet girls brought joy to mine this morning. I want to delight Him even as I delight in Him.