..."You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ³⁸This is the great and first commandment. ³⁹And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
These words send my heart soaring as no other words have done. They were the verses that convicted me of my need for a very personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And they are the words that have constantly guided and goaded me to pursue the knowledge of Christ every day since the Lord began to walk with me.
As I read and reread these verses, the Spirit reminded me in my thoughts that I knew very well what love is—all kinds of love. I was the receiver of love from both parents, from six brothers and sisters, from friends, from a husband I adored. And the latest joy and experience in love had come in caring for my little son and daughter. All of these loves were powerful; they were palpable. They were each distinct and yet, had common characteristics. When I questioned myself if I loved God as I was commanded to, I knew how to judge and give the answer.
Didn’t I enjoy being with everyone that I loved? Didn’t I seek their counsel and help when needed? Didn’t I give them preference in time, company, and in meeting their needs over the many people with whom I was acquainted? Didn’t they receive my loyalty, my caring thoughts? Wasn’t there a passion in my emotional response to each one? Yes, to all of the above!
And no—I did not love God by any of those evidences of love.
I confessed that I did not love Him and begged for three things. I knew that without exception, everyone that I loved, I knew. And while I knew about Him, I did not know Him. So here are the three things that I asked of our God:
that I might know Him, so that I could love Him.
that He would reveal Himself to me, so that I could know Him.
that He would give me a strong faith that would not fail or waver.
It would take a book to tell how abundant and joyful my life is because God answered that prayer for me. I was a changed woman the moment He flooded me with His presence—I cry now in deep gratitude as I write—for the most miraculous, wonderful of times in our lives appear when we love God with our whole heart, love Him down to the deepest recesses of our soul, and love Him with the entirety of our mind!
And what do we do with such love? Sometimes I feel like I will burst if I can’t literally hug Jesus, or that I just must sit down with Him in my living room and talk. Perhaps the best insight on what to do with passion for our God comes from Jesus Himself. When He met with His disciples on the beach for a cookout breakfast after His resurrection, part of the discussion was directed at Peter, personally. Jesus asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” And when Peter answered "yes" each time, Jesus responded with a directive of what to do with his love:
“Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.”
Let us turn our passion for our Lord Jesus Christ into feeding and tending His lambs and sheep—each one of us according to the gifts God has given us, to the places He leads us, in the power He imparts to us by His Holy Spirit.
And let us turn our passion into the obedience of constant prayer and daily immersion in His great letter to us, His written Word. Hide it in your hearts, be guided by its instruction, feast on it for your joy in knowing your Lord better and better. Press on to know Him, He who is worthy of all our love and loyalty and companionship and service and faithfulness, and obedience—He is worthy of all!
Ask God to show you the steps you can take in the year ahead, either personally or as a family, in loving response to Jesus' commands to: “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.”