It is easy in our Christian walk to be driven forward. We are told and highly value the truth of “loving God and loving each other” (Mt 22:36-40) as we should. In fact it is the essential part of our faith. But at times I have felt duty-motivated.
In the last week I think I’ve found the reason why. I believe it’s because in addition to remember and walking in “love for God and love for others,” that we first need to remember that “we love God because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).
One trap that is easy to get ensnared by is that in the dark night of the soul sometimes we wonder where God is and what in the world is he doing (or not doing) to help. It can feel very isolating and that you’re alone. In creeps this mindset that focuses more on what God is not doing than what he is accomplishing. Our thinking can get stuck in that gear and because of that, our understanding and awareness of God’s love for us diminishes. We still love God. He still loves us. But the motivating factor is changed.
True confession: This has been me in recent days, months, years and even decades.
Lately though I’ve temporarily set aside focusing on telling him how I love him (though I still do), and have instead been primarily meditating on God’s love for me. Having done this for a few days now, I find myself telling him how I love him more and more without even trying. The greater we understand and grow in our awareness of his love for us, the more our love for him spills out naturally and not from duty. Not only that but my eyes are starting to open to see more and more how many ways God is loving me and the result is I’m finding more and more ways to speak my love for Him.. My focus is shifting and it is doing so without effort. Other than the effort of meditation.
Perhaps it’s for this reason that one of Paul’s most extraordinary prayers he ever prayed is this:
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:17-20)
That was his prayer. That we would know the love of God. Because he knew that if we know the love of God, everything else will take care of itself. Perhaps John says it best:
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” (1 Jn 4:16)
Last night I wondered if my kitties had escaped outside as they hadn’t yet visited my room to jump on my bed and get their nightly pets. I know that if they go outside at night that their lives are in danger from the coyotes that roam our property. We’ve lost several of our furry friends.
So I rolled out of bed and went to turn on the light and there I looked. The kitty was sitting right beside me. I felt the Lord tell me that even when I didn’t see him, he was there. I went back to bed. A few minutes later I got up again. There was my other kitty sitting in a chair. Again the Lord reinforced to me that it was really true. Just because I can’t see him in the dark doesn’t mean he isn’t there. With that I smiled. And said thank-you. From the heart.