“And He (Jesus) replied to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”- Matthew 22:37-38
Before Hugh and I got married, we went through pre-marital counseling and spent many hours trying to unfold the mystery that would be the covenant bond we now live in. We read books, all about learning to love the other as best as possible. The truth is, all these things are guidelines. Only experience and God’s grace really teaches you to love another person in a way that they truly know and feel it.
In our family’s journey with our girls these past few years, I have heard from many people sharing pieces of their story and asking many questions.
How do you have faith when _____ happens?
How do you seek God in moments of pain?
How do you not let your emotions rule your response when it seems like all is falling apart?
In all these questions, I hear a vulnerable whisper that is really asking this:
How do I love God in the place He has me?
Bailey Grace is still having seizures almost every night. It happens at the exact same time, and every time I see her begin to seize on our video monitor, I jump up and stand by her bedside. She is not aware of what is going on during this time. She doesn’t not appear to be in any kind of pain. Yet, as a momma, love spurs me on to simply be with her in the midst of the misfiring of her precious little brain.
This morning, the first words Hugh and I said to one another were words of tension. A small disagreement on how we should handle a particular situation caused us both to speak shortly with one another. As he was about to leave the house, I smiled and gave him a quick kiss. In these moments, dropping the conversation at hand and showing him affection was in fact loving him.
The point I want to make is this: love is personal and love is specific and love is active. If this is true in our human relationships, why we would expect it to be any less true with God?
What builds intimacy with God is the same thing that builds intimacy with one another: brief moments throughout our day in which we choose to do the thing that puts Him first. Those choices that you make that maybe only He sees but that the two of you know to be real. Some of the most painful moments with my girls have also been some of the most intimate moments with my God. I remember a particular night in which Ally was hospitalized and we had been up all night with one of her coughing spells. The coughing and vomiting had gotten so bad that the nurse, needing to tend to other patients, left me with several hospital gowns and bed sheets and told me to push the call button if I felt like I could not handle it. Poor Ally was exhausted, it had gone on for hours, yet I was beyond sure I was not alone. God’s presence was so palpable in that room, so much so that I smiled and said aloud, ‘Lord, thank you for being here and making Your presence more real than this circumstance.’ I often think about that moment with the Lord whenever the day to day details begin to feel overwhelming I start to play the, ‘What if’ game. He will be there; experience assures me so.
Friend, loving God today is going to look differently for you than it will for me. It will uniquely personal to who you are and what season He has you in, but the commonality we will share is that it will be specific, it will be personal, and it will require action. Do not mistake feelings for love. Sometimes, our emotions follow suit and what a beautiful thing that is. In both the situations I listed above, however, my emotions were on a completely different page than my love. Often times, love is most displayed, in fact, when our emotions just don’t quite line up with the very thing we know is best to do in the moment.
“That I may know Him… by any means possible.”- Philippians 3:10-11
Love does whatever it takes, and your whatever it takes is going to look differently than mine; yet I can promise you He will show you what that looks like as you earnestly seek Him.
If we want to love God- truly love Him- we have got to start being honest with ourselves about actions we are taking or things we are pursuing that do not express this love. I’m not just talking about the obvious sins- I mean the secret things of the heart that are taking up way bigger corners of our being than we would ever imagine. Our threshold to love God is lowered when we allow the things of this world to dictate our choices or our focus. When we fixate our eyes on Him, bringing Him the dark places, His light shines through the cracks and crevices and we are able to experience and share His light in ways we never knew possible. Yet, it is going to take you being gut-wrenchingly honest with yourself about those things you are afraid to admit because if you did, you would have to do something about them.
In the coming weeks, I am going to be sharing a lot about our personal “by any means possible”. This time last year, it looked differently than it does today. Life with God is far from boring; and as we seek His face, the adventure continues. My desire for you today is that you begin to reflect on the following things:
Do you want to love God more today than you did yesterday?
What are the things you are going to have to give up in order to gain more of that love? (Be careful with this. Following Christ has nothing to do with our performance, so know most assuredly that this has nothing to do with salvation. There is a difference in salvation and sanctification. Salvation happened once and for all at the cross and is received the moment you believe God and what He says about Jesus. Sanctification is a life-long journey and grants us more of the character of God- His peace, His presence, and the fruit of who He is).
What would it look like to choose the, “by any means possible” you feel God stirring in your heart and what are you going to do to begin taking steps of faith to do so?
As you make these choices, all for His glory, I would love for you to take a picture of something that represents that choice for you and tag me and include the hashtag, #byanymeanspossible . I want this to be a community that relies on God and His grace in all things in order to make courageous decisions through the lavish love we have been given. Hugh and I are trusting the Lord to show up BIG in our personal #byanymeanspossible . (More on that later). It is a beautiful thing to make a decision for God and know that if He doesn’t show up, the thing will not be possible. Friends, He will show up as we take steps of faith to do the very things we could not do without Him. I am praying for you as you begin to pray through what that looks like for you in the coming year. Let’s be brave through and to and for Him and Him alone.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”- Romans 11:36