I wrote this while thinking about our meeting in the jail last evening:
In the jail ministry, I always try to emphasize that the relationship with God must come first. If we attempt to live for God without loving God first, we are really bound for failure. Love Him first, and that love will mold you and shape you into something you never expected. There is within you a beautiful new creature awaiting to be released by God’s love. . .
Always looking for a way to trap Him, the scribe asked Him a question that He was sure to get wrong. . . but Jesus hit it out of the park. His answer was irrefutable. . . indeed probably the only answer which could not be criticized on some level. . .
The most important commandment had no mention of sin in it. Jesus answer was all about love. . . all about our relationship with Him, and our relationship with our fellow man.
Shouldn’t we then place more importance on, and give more effort to learning to love God with every fiber of our being, for if we fail to love God totally, then living for Him will be at best fruitless, and at worst impossible.
How do we fall in love with someone?
1. God loved us first
The foremost, and by far easiest way is to fall in love with someone who already loves us, and this surely is the case with God:
This is difficult for us to comprehend. King David couldn’t figure it out either:
How can He love us, knowing everything about us. . . knowing the blackness and ugliness of our innermost thoughts. . . But He does love us, and He has even given us dominion over His creation. . . a gift of great price only exceeded by the gift of robing Himself in flesh, coming to earth, enduring the humiliation, rejection, and pain. . .and finally becoming the sacrifice for our sins.
He died for you. He died with you on His mind. He died so that your life could be saved. He most willingly ran into the burning building and carried you out, fully knowing all the while that He would perish in the act. . . .
When we consider falling in love with someone, we want there to be a compatibility between us.
My back was turned to Him for 45 years. Most of that time I claimed that He did not even exist. . . that He was the equal of the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus. I cursed Him, and those who believed in Him, and when my eyes were opened. . . when He revealed Himself to me. . .the warmth of His embrace was total. There was no holding back on His part. His Spirit merged with my spirit, and came to live inside of me. . . I utterly fail to convey just how compatible we are. . . He is endlessly patient. He never grows bored with my ramblings to Him. He never leaves my side. In the darkest hour of my night, He is awake and ready to listen. He leads me and guides me around pitfalls. He knows all my weaknesses. . . better than even I am able to see, and yet He still loves me. . .Yes. . . we are totally compatible.
3. Short term benefits
Every aspect of my life has been positively impacted in coming to God. . .bar none! I am a better husband, my finances are better, my health is better, I am a better employee, I am a better co-worker, I am a better father, and neighbor, and citizen. I am happier, more at peace, less tense, more satisfied, more joyful. . . I sleep better at night. My depression, while still present is lessened in intensity and of shorter duration. He is always with me. I always have someone to talk to.
4. Long term benefits
Eternity. . . Our soul is eternal. Death is a doorway, from the physical to the spiritual.
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (35) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: (36) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (37) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (38) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (39) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (42) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: (43) I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. (44) Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? (45) Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
We go from this life to a place prepared for us, according to our righteousness in this life. It will be wondrous beyond comprehension. It will not be the eternal strumming of lyres, while dressed in white robes, of that I am confident. My opinion. . . the universe will be ours to explore. We will be able to spend a day or a million years sightseeing in the rings of Saturn if we wish and other wonders of beauty incomprehensible and unknown await us. . . gathering around the throne of God worshipping with a million or a billion other souls. Can you imagine?. . . no words I think can describe the experience of that. . .
5. The Costs. . .
Is there any relationship which has no costs? Has there ever been a successful marriage where the man and the woman are not both changed for the sake of the relationship? In my marriage to my wife I have been greatly changed for the better. Learning. . . giving up of self. . . becoming less self-ish. . . and this relationship with God was not. . . is not without cost. I have had to give up much. I am greatly changed by my love for Him, and His love for me. I will be paying a price for as far as I can see into the future. . . It has cost me my pride. . . I have had to give up bitterness, and unforgiveness. Resentment, envy, greed, pride. . .again self-ish-ness arises. . . I battle, and stumble, and come to repentance at the altar again and again. . . asking Him for forgiveness, which is freely granted. There has been nothing shed which I am not glad to see depart. . .
I am unabashedly in love with God. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me. These last 15 years of living for God have surpassed the first 45 years of my life in every respect. I look forward to tomorrow, and an eternity of tomorrows after that walking hand in hand with Jesus.
I love you my God. . .
Thank you for loving me first. . .