"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" Mark 12:30 (NKJV)
I am thankful for Jesus’ simple words, his straightforward message. Not much can be minced in that sentence right there. Love God, period. Do it with everything you have. There are no reasons why, no guidelines. Just do it.
For a girl like me who manages to make even the simplest message complex, I appreciate clear-cut instruction.
Loving God is easy when things are going our way. When the world is at my fingertips, when I can clearly see the path ahead and it is smooth and detour-free, it’s easy for me to raise my eyes and hands to heaven and praise God for all that he is. It’s easy for me to talk about God’s goodness, his gifts, his eternal love.
When the world crashes down around us it’s a different story.
When things don’t go as planned or as smoothly as we hoped, it is harder to love God with all that we are. When we feel persecuted, when our relationships fall apart, when a friend has betrayed us, when we get sick, when a loved one is sick or dies – then to love God seems like a chore. Just why hasn’t he delivered me? we may think. We get indignant. “After all the time I loved you!” We shake our fists at the sky.
But we are taught to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. With everything.
Our God is good; there is not a smidge of darkness in his being. He is light, peace, joy, and salvation. It becomes easy to love God when we see him from this perspective: for all that he is, not for all that he gives us.
So often I think of God in terms of what he gives us. He gave us the world, Jesus, our very breath and all the goodness that is contained in our lives. When I praise God for the gifts he gave me, I feel like a kid at Christmas who is happy when he gets what he wants but would be less so when the gifts aren’t what were expected.
God is always here. He is most deserving of our love. We can choose when to love him, and do it only when the good times are here, but that isn’t what he wants.
He wants us to love him for who he is. He wants us to be all in, all the time, no matter what. He wants our love to be whole, without distractions or contingencies. He wants our love to be the love he gave to us reflected right back to him.
It may be hard. It may be unnatural. But that is his instruction. He knows what we are capable of. With him, we can do anything. Even love him when we’re not sure how to do it.