If you haven't yet read pt. 1 of this series, you'll find it by scrolling down or by going here.
(this title is borrowed from Dr. James K. A. Smith's most recent book 'You Are What You Love')
After laying out the guidelines for relationship for a few chapters, in Deuteronomy 30:6 this promise falls upon our ears,
“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
Our Father initiates renewed relationship with us by inviting us Home and promising to do for us what we could never do ourselves.. to change our hearts - what we love most. The chapter continues with provisions, outlining how this relations will work.
“8 And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
- Deut. 30:8-10, ESV
Here then is our first and biggest challenge: we are not able to love with ALL our heart and with ALL our soul ALL the time. Some of us might wonder if we can at all. YHWH requires undivided loyalty. He calls us to return to Him with our whole selves - holding nothing back. These verses echo the clarion call from Deuteronomy 6:5:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
The Hebrew words used here to interpret ‘heart’ and ‘soul’ together emphasize we’re created to love Our Father with our whole being- everything that is in us. The Hebrew word used here for ‘might’ connotes we’re created to love Our Father passionately. We might hear these words and take them as a command to generate a love we know that is due Our Father because He is, in fact, God - but that we continually find as an elusive target. The commentator in the Bible I was reading shared this helpful insight: “[this] is not a demand to manufacture false emotion, but to cultivate a disposition [of the heart].” (Faithlife Bible Commentary, Deut. 6:5).
If you don’t know of him already, I’d like to introduce you to Dr. James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s Canadian and very cool. His insights on the human soul, and how we become the people Our Father has created and called us to become are invaluable. Please listen to him share about ‘The Heart of Worship’ below:
Prof. James K. A. Smith: The Heart of Worship (#4)
What Dr. Smith is clearly stating here is that when we gather together every week, immersed in the story of God’s limitless love for us, we are being transformed by ‘re-inhabiting that Story - that reality.’
Falling in Love
I met my wife when we were both 16. The night we met I was with another girl. Even so, that night I decided to get her number and attempt to get to know her. I'm ashamed to say that after my future wife and I met, I didn't remember what she looked like. The following weeks we talked over the phone and I became more enamored and intrigued, with this sweet spirited, joyful, tender-hearted girl on the other end of my 10 foot corded telephone. We eventually met face-to-face again on a group date. We all watched 'It' by Stephen King. 'It' wasn't really a good movie to watch on a first date.. or really ever. But we began to become acquainted and enjoyed simply sharing the same space.
In fact, that night while a bunch of us laid on the floor, watching the movie, I got up to grab some food from the kitchen. My spot was the only accessible void next to my future wife. A friend of hers was on her other side. I returned from grazing on some snacks from the kitchen island to find that another guy had snuck in my place, leaving only a 4 inch gap between him and my 'date'. I wasn't backing down. I eyed up the situation from behind and ever so boldly slid into the gap between she and him, like a train splitting a herd of cattle to either side on the tracks, I was headed somewhere -with her- and it didn't include that guy. Success.
As the weeks turned into months, our interest in one another grew. We didn't have to coax it. It was natural. Organic. From the fertile soil of time together, mutual attentiveness, shared experiences and honest conversation, something developed that was full-hearted, sincere and full of youthful exuberance. Some call it infatuation. It most certainly was. But it had the potential to become so much more.. and I'm grateful to say that it has. It's taken 24 years, and a lot of commitment, conviction and courage to grow the love we have for one another today. At times, our love for one another has flourished vigorously, and at other times it's been thread bare. We still love one another, and today we have so much more than what we had in those early days. Our love has grown so far beyond infatuation. We're learning to empty ourselves for the sake of one another.
That process of moving from infatuation (pure excitement and strong interest) to genuine love (self-sacrifice and acceptance) reminds me of a wonderful quote..
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.
Now put foundations under them."
- Henry David Thoreau
End Pt. 2. Pt. 3 will be posted next week.