Don’t make things too complicated.
Sometimes we get all theological and lofty about spiritual topics. In our efforts to understand, we complicate simple truths, making them seem difficult. Loving God with all your heart is a simple thing. It is what we were created for and when we love God we fulfill our purpose.
Love God with the heart of a child.
I remember the smell of the chunky crayon as I drew a big red heart on my paper. I am in second grade and Mrs. Pierce is my Sunday School teacher. She is nice, laughs often, and wears pointy glasses. Ruth Ann sits next to me and her heart looks better than mine, neat with all the crayon strokes going the same direction. My coloring is wild and scribbly with an energy that won’t stay in the lines.
It’s all about the heart.
“Do you know why we are drawing hearts today?” Mrs. Pierce asks. With the ease of a woman who enjoys children, she tells us the greatest thing we can do is to love God. She reads from the big Bible in her lap: “The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength‘” (Mark 12:30).
Pressing the crayon harder into the paper, I color faster as I listen. Even at seven years old, I know there was something special about these words.
“Love God with all your heart” is etched into my mind with the memory of those second grade Sunday school days.
I am still learning how to love God with all my heart. You see, loving God is the journey of a lifetime and there is always more to learn, more pictures to reveal, more depth to plumb.
Loving God with the heart of a mother.
Years later, I am no longer the child and my perspective shifts dramatically the day I become a parent.
I look down at a tiny hand, fingers curled around my index finger with a strength that surprises me. I am stunned by the sheer miracle of holding this long awaited baby in my arms for the first time. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain of the delivery or the awe of experiencing the wonder of new life. He is just minutes old and his first frantic cries have settled. Maternal love wells up strong with a weight that is a glimmer of the glory of God.
In the days that come, my husband and I admire his itty-bitty toes and the wide-eyed alert expression in his eyes. He is a wonder. “Seems like he has always been with us, ” my husband says with that I-can’t-believe-this-is-really-happening excitement of a new father.
Simple inspiration to love God with your whole heart.
We love him fiercely, just because he is our son. This love has nothing to do abilities, personality, or looks. We didn’t have to grow into this love or warm up to it in any way. We love him simply because he is our son.
I pat his back as he sleeps on my shoulder, his cheek warm against my neck. In this moment, I begin to understand a deeper layer of the Father-love of God. Though I have known God is my Father since I was seven, now I understand in a fresh way that I am loved because I am His child.
I shake my head as I realize how many times I have struggled to believe this simple truth.
God loves me because I am His child.
My looks, personality, abilities, performance, or behavior do not earn God’s love any more than I would wait to love until my son is old enough to help with the chores or even be able to express his love for me.
How do I love God the most?
“How do I love you more than this baby in my arms, Lord?”
I know I am supposed to love God above all else, but in this moment, I’m not sure how. How do I love a God I cannot see more that the family than I interact with everyday? More than this helpless infant in my arms?
The fact that I am asking the question hints at the answer.
As my son sleeps, I write the question in my journal, ready to wrestle with it. Words scratching across the page, God brings forth a new insight through the words I write.
Let your love for your child teach you a deeper love for Me. Enjoy the gift. Learn from the gift, but always let the gift turn your heart to the One who is the Giver. Experience your love for others in the context of My love for you.