My grandma passed away about a year and half ago at the age of 92. As she faded in her later years there were fewer and fewer things that she could do, but God graciously gave her continued joy in song and full thankfulness. When I would visit, I would sing for her – it was amazing and emotional. And when someone would do anything for her, even if it was uncomfortable, she’d always say, “Thank you dear.” She is for me a picture of Jesus’ friend, coming out of the wilderness. Weak, but glorious because of the One on whom she leans.
For the longest time, I thought that love was a command that I must follow – but try as I might, it seemed impossible. Some people told me that love was a decision, not emotional, I just need to decide to love him and then work hard at it. And I really wanted to, but it’s really hard and probably ended up looking for other rules to follow.
I think we may all know someone like me, who works hard at religion, loves the truth and loves the story, but their heart has yet to love God fully. Maybe it’s you. God has been working on me for years to take the ideas of love from my head to my heart. There are 3 verses in the Bible that have been very meaningful to me in helping me transition from being someone who knows about love to someone who loves (and it’s not over yet, believe me).
1. Matthew 22.37
And [Jesus] replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect).
For the longest time I read this verse as a command. “Love. Do it and do it now.” But look at the way the Jesus says it – it’s a prediction or a promise. He’s doing it. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit is teaching me to love. I will love the Lord my God. In the mind of Jesus it’s a certainty. Jesus, the one who spoke creation into existence, spoke out that I would love God – I will love God. And it’s not without choice, I can refuse, but I can also say yes. And my weak, broken yes sets in motion all the power of creation and the Creator to make me to love.
2. Psalm 37.4
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Delight in the Lord. Enjoy being with him. Search the depth and width of him and you’ll find that God is full of pleasure. You may even find that all the desires of your heart are here – where the Lord is, that’s where your heart’s desire is. Again, delighting is not a command – this is an invitation. “Come to the party, enjoy the food. The bread is Life, the water is from the Fountain of Life, the wine is the finest – everything is designed for your pleasure. No leftovers, no microwave dinners and no stale bread, it’s all fresh, life-giving and it’s for you.”
3. Song of Songs 8.5a
Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?
One great gift of the Song of Songs comes near the end – after falling in love and some painful seasons of separation the Beloved emerges from her wilderness, and she’s found on the arm of her beloved.
This is my story – at the end of everything I will be found, arm in arm with the One my heart loves. I’ll be coming out of the wilderness – I’ve grown to know that there is no dangerous place that I’ll be, if I’m with my Lover. He leads well and he is never surprised by the situations that come my way. He knows every pain, every betrayal, every shame and he’s right there with me. And I’ll be leaning. Keith has often told us not to trust any leader who doesn’t walk with a limp. Jesus is trustworthy – I can lean my whole weight on him. I can place all my burdens with him and he’ll take them all. There is no sin or shame or pain that is too heavy or distressing or complicated for him to take from you. And my whole heart will be his.
- At one time I felt that my love was mine to give “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” Song of Songs 2.16
- Then I grew to see that his love was stronger, (and started first), “I am my beloved’s and he is mine.” Song of Songs 6.3
- Finally I sees that his love has outshone any love that I might have in my heart. Any love I has is a gift. “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.” Song of Songs 7.10
Beloved is not just a nickname, He is the only one that my heart will love and it’s a work that He’s doing in me. It was his goal and his promise from the very beginning. You will learn to love. It’s the end of the story. At least, the end of the story on this side of glory. I’m so glad to be part of God’s community where we can learn together to love. Today I’m going to look for a opportunity to practice.