September 5, 2023
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, ESV).
When he sat down next to me in the exam room, I asked him how he was.
“I’m good,” he said. “My daughter’s getting married.”
“That’s great. When’s the wedding?”
“November,” he said. “I get to walk her down the aisle,” then added, “But then I’ve got to turn around.”
“I’m a pastor and I get to do the service.”
What a blessing for that father and servant of God, to walk his daughter down the aisle as father and then turn around to become her pastor.
With me it’s a bit more complicated. So much of my Christian life is too much “turning around.”
I spend my time at home with the Lord each morning, and then I turn around to face the very concrete world of practice with few thoughts of my morning devotions until I turn around again to my prayers in bed that night.
I push hard through patients and administrative duties all week, trusting my own skills and thoughts, then turn around and worship my Lord sincerely at church, as if He had been the center of my life all week.
This week I sat in my backyard and talked with a much younger friend who was distressed that her heart was not fully focused on God, wondering if she loved Him enough.
With my own frequent turning around, I sometimes think the same.
Perhaps I think too much. Perhaps I should trust more. Perhaps God has been changing my life on a slow but steady plan, such that my character and my witness increasingly reveal His presence in my life, and it’s only my awareness that needs to catch up.
I hope so, but I would love to feel it more.
When I spoke to my young friend, I told her, “You can’t make yourself love God anymore than you can make yourself fall in love with your neighbor. Love must be caught, not forced. God is love, and the closer we walk with Him, the more we will fall in love with Him. Our walk with Him will grow ever closer if we (1) seek Him in His Word daily, where He is alive; (2) commune with others in worship and fellowship; (3) pray throughout our day that we may see Him in our busyness; (4) turn from sin in our lives; (5) obey Him whenever we hear Him speak; (6)share Him with those who do not know Him; and (7) trust Him with the outcomes of our life. If we walk these steps, we will be walking close to Him, and, day by day, will grow to love Him more. And even if we do not feel a love for God as much as we might like, we will indeed be loving God.”
I need sometimes to listen to my own advice. Perhaps then, like my patient, the doctor who is swept up in the adventure of each day will not need to turn around to bow the knee at night.
Help me to do the things that bring me closer and make my life more consistent in my love for you.