Who do you love most in the world? And for those of you who think you know what the right answer is, put your hand down, you’re not allowed to say Jesus. What earthly person do you love most?
Think about your feelings for that person. Conjure them up right now. What’s it feel like when you’re with them? Or when you’re not? Hold onto that, you’ll need it in a bit.
As Christians, loving God is the most important thing we are to do. Jesus tells us so in Mark 12:29-30. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, of course Christians are meant to love God. My question for you today is what kind of love do you love God with? Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
That’s a pretty intense love. It’s not really a love we love people with. At least, not very often. But that person you thought of before, the one you love most? I bet if you love anyone with all your heart, soul and might it’s probably that person.
Me, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. I just love to be in love, and when I fall, I fall hard. And I would say that in those situations I do love with everything I am. But here’s the uncomfortable question: do I love God as much as that?
And what about you? All those feelings you conjured earlier, about that special person. Do you feel that way about God?
If you’re not sure, here are some things to think about which might help clarify it.
1. Do you thirst for Him?
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1
Have you ever had heatstroke? It’s nasty. My little experience began when I thought that I’d be fine without a sunhat for an hour or so on a peddle-o in Mallorca. I was so wrong. By the time I got back to the shore I was feeling very shivery and sick. I stumbled back to the apartment, went straight to the fridge, and downed a two litre bottle of Fanta Lemon in one. I don’t know how I fit that much liquid inside me, but I just couldn’t tear the bottle away from my lips. My body was screaming at me that I needed fluids.
I think that’s the kind of panting the psalmist is referring to. Not just a slight thirst, but an all-consuming desperation, an urgent desire. Elizabeth Gilbert puts it in a great way:
Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water.
When you miss someone you really love, it can kind of be like that. Separation can be agony. The desire to be reunited is visceral and urgent. You would do just about anything to deeply drink in their presence again.
Does your soul thirst for God in the way that my body thirsted for that Fanta? Do you seek Him like your head’s on fire? When you’ve been distant from Him for a while, do you miss His presence like you miss a love you have to be apart from?
2. Do you share everything with Him?
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
When I fall in love with someone, I want to share everything with them, from the big stuff to the totally trivial. I see a funny picture of a cat, or someone in the office says something daft, or a car is parked badly, and my first thought is ‘I have to share this with so-and-so’.
Beyond the trivial, I want to share all the important aspects of my life with them. I want them to hear about my dreams and opinions, involve them in my hobbies, make them watch my favourite movies, read my blog, come to my concerts. I become like a small child bringing their parents a drawing they did, it’s all ‘look at this’, ‘look at this’.
Even further, I want to involve them in my decisions, so that the future I’m building is a shared one. Not just me, but me-and-them.
Do you tell God about everything, from the huge to the mundane? Do you actively seek to involve Him in every part of your life? Do you involve Him in decisions? When you’re planning your future, are you planning it for the two of you together?
3. Do you run to Him?
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1.
When I have a bad day, I know exactly who I would go to for support. If you love someone, it’s likely that they’re the first person you turn to when things go wrong. If that person loves you too, they’ll give you the support you need, to the best of their ability, and that positive feedback develops trust. You reach a point where just their presence is reassuring. They sort of become a refuge.
No one is capable of supporting us like our Father, the King of Kings. He should be the first place we run. When we’re within the walls of His love, we don’t have to fear the outside world.
Do you turn to your heavenly Father first when things go wrong? Do you trust Him to comfort and protect you? Do you seek Him in order to feel assured and safe?
4. Do you boast in Him?
Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:31.
Isn’t it annoying when someone won’t stop talking about how great their child is? About how little Harry can do a puzzle now, and look how much he’s grown, and how he’s got Grade 8 on his kazoo and full marks in his GCSEs and, and –
And you’re like, who cares, really?
But the truth is, when you love someone you can’t stop talking about them. You boast in them. You kind of become an evangelist for them. You think everything they do is fabulous, and you’re completely blind to the fact that other people might not see them quite the same, and might not want to hear it.
Do you talk about God that much? Do you talk about Him in the same glowing way, regardless of whether the person listening wants to hear it? Are you always boasting about just how great your Father is?
5. Is He your home?
Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him. Augustine of Hippo.
They say you know you’re in love when home becomes a person, not a place.
This is a culmination of all the previous points. When we are with the people we love, we feel like we’re at home. We are comfortable, safe, authentically ourselves. It’s a place we want to linger, a place where we can sit back with our makeup off and just be.
I think that meeting with God should be more like going home than going to church. When we go to church we put on our nice clothes, make sure our hair looks okay, and smile as best we can. And there’s usually nothing wrong with that. But when you enter the presence of God it should be more like kicking off your shoes at the door, grabbing a hot chocolate and snuggling down on the sofa with someone you love. You laugh, you cry, you express love, you express rage. It’s intimate, it’s genuine, and it’s completely safe.
Do you approach God like you’re coming home? Do you pop on your slippers and stick the kettle on? Or do you dress yourself up, and try to appear the shiny, polished version of yourself that you show to the world?
I’d like to challenge you, as I am currently challenging myself, to learn to love God with your best love. The love that is only drawn out of you by a few people in your life. The love that desperately desires nearness, intimacy, sharing. The love that is the safe place you turn to when everything else is a mess. The love that you literally cannot stop talking about, that you cannot get out of your mind. The love that is your home, and there’s no place you’d rather be.