So since Jesus says we should love HIm with our hearts first, I'm guessing that kind of loving is most important - or maybe the hardest. I sat in the chair and wondered what loving with our hearts really looks like. To say that you love someone with all of your heart is a pretty heavy statement, even more intentional than simply saying "I love you." It seems to have a desperation, a passion, a windswept feel to it. If I love God with all my heart - really, truly - then I love Him deeply, tenderly, unabashedly. I love Him so much it hurts me. If He were here, I'd want to take Him for a ride in my car to see the pastures behind my house. I'd play some John Mayer on my iPod and take Him to dinner at the local restaurant with the best crusted Tilapia. I'd want to look at Him in the eyes and hear His laugh and ask Him to tell me stories about His childhood and feel the weight of His hand in mine. Mostly, I guess, I'd want Him to love me. I'd want to know, without a shadow of a doubt that while I followed Him around like a puppy dog, hanging on His every word, He was doing the same. The kind of love that loves with the heart has no worry of being unrequited. Maybe that's why the Bible says that perfect love drives out all fear.
And yet, though He isn't here for me to touch or see or hear, He's present. And most of the time, my love for Him is anything but from the heart. It's practical, convenient, disinterested, obligatory. It's angry and unforgiving and selfish and holds quite a few grudges. It's formulaic. I'm always looking for the equation, for the variables to plug in so that I can "figure Him out." Not really the picture of a romance.
Perhaps I must love Jesus first with my heart because until I do the soul and mind stuff is a little irrelevant. After all, knowing and understanding someone aren't worth much if you don't love them. We scramble around a lot, trying to decipher a God who just wants us to give Him the time to reveal His heart. Maybe your time with Jesus would look more like several hours in intense therapy. Maybe you'd take Him to the house you grew up in where you felt unloved and insecure. Maybe you'd remind Him that while you went to church every single Sunday for ten years straight and prayed for the same things over and over again, you're still lonely.
I still don't understand why Jesus took Copeland from me. And I don't know what He's doing with my life. But I can say that, despite the moments when I want to scream at Him and throw a few mugs, I'm pretty in love. He wins me over. He reminds me of the ones He loves, like the Mathenia family, who are suffering and agonizing over this crazy, confusing, love-struck God of ours who would still allow us to, well, suffer and agonize (cold-water-news.blogspot.com). He reminds me that, as someone mentioned the other day, if our galaxy could be shrunk to the size of the North American continent, our solar system would fit into a coffee cup. I'm insignificant. David said it best: what am I worth that You, God, even think about me? And yet - He does. Constantly. Every single thing about us matters to Him. And He wants to hear about all of it.
John Mayer has a new single out called "Say." It reminds me of my dad because, when I was growing up, we were always taught to communicate. Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Get all your crap out on the table. The Bible is filled with men and women who were totally screwed up. And yet God kept pursuing them, kept revealing bits of the fantastic story He had for them, because even if they were yelling at the top of their lungs, they were still talking to HIm. Maybe that's ultimately what loving someone is really about. Saying what you need to say. The vulnerability that comes from sitting down with someone and saying, "Well, here's the thing. I need You to love me. I love You. Something about You makes me feel like I don't suck. And yet I'm coming into this conversation just about as messed up as anybody can get. I've been hurt and abused and pushed around. Take me as I am, because it's all I've got."
Loving God with all your heart is just like everything else in the God-plus-us equation. If you take us out of it, He's still enough. He can give us the love we need to give to Him, and He can provide all that Love requires. We just have to be willing to ask for it.
Say what you need to say.