I’m jittery. There are butterflies in my stomach, and I feel somewhat nauseated. My heart is pounding. My palms are slick. A slight sweat forms across my brow (and definitely in my armpits).
I’m totally enraptured. I can't focus on anything else but that one thing. That one person. I think my heart may have actually skipped a beat.
Do you know the feeling I’m talking about? Do you know that sense of excitement and adoration? It’s love, and there’s simply nothing else like it.
You’ve probably heard this passage before. It’s quoted all the time. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.
But as I read it today, the words carried more weight for me. I saw the full context of this command for the first time, and I could grasp why it’s so very important.
Moses spoke these words after God brought the Israelites out of slavery and gave them a new life. He’s about to bring them to the Promised Land! Moses has been leading the people, and he’s instructing them to obey the Lord before they enter the land. He’s telling them the greatest command: Love God. This is no small task. He tells them to feel this deep in their hearts and souls. Teach your children. Wear this feeling proudly for all to see. Display it daily in the way you walk. Let your home be evidence of your love for God. And don’t ever, ever forget the darkness and the slavery that God delivered you from.
This is deep, life-changing, soul-enrapturing love.
This is the kind of love that changes your whole life and forms the core of your very being. This is called the greatest command for a reason.
What’s even more amazing is the fact that God loves us a million times deeper than the kind of love we’re capable of. We’re fickle humans; we love, and we forget. We love other things more than God. But God, He actually is love. He loved us so much that He made His son, Jesus, fully man to take on our sins and die the horrific death we deserved. He took on the cross for us. He rose to heaven and grants us eternal life!
“Listen to people talk all the time. They fell out of love. ‘I just don't love him anymore.’ In fact, the thing that's probably most frowned upon in predominant culture when it comes to love is someone who loves by will, what the Hebrews called ahava. It was a love of the will. It was ‘I'm not going anywhere.’ Don't romanticize that. That's not rose petals and violin and candles being lit and, ‘Oh, honey, I'm not going anywhere.’ All right? That's something on fire over here, a knife flung past your head, you're hunkered down, there's chaos everywhere, and you say, ‘I'm not going anywhere.’
Ahava says, ‘I've seen the ugly side of you and I'm staying.’”
Ahava is what Jesus did for us, and it’s the love we are privileged to receive if we accept it and believe it.
We have to love Him in return. That’s the greatest command.
I love my family. I love my friends. I love taking walks, I love drinking coffee, I love watching This Is Us. I love all these things, and I’ll talk about them all day long. Where does Jesus fit into that? Are we willing to talk about Him the way we talk about these lesser things? Do we love Him and look at Him with that jittery feeling we do when we’re in love?
I know I often fall short. I get way more excited about stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter. I let my other loves come before my love of God. There’s nothing wrong with loving your family, your friends, or even This Is Us. But when the order of our loves is upside down, we’ve made a mistake. We’ve forgotten the ultimate commandment.
With the world we live in, it’s so easy to get caught up in cultural commands. Man’s commands tell us to make money. Be successful. Find a spouse and have a nice family. Be healthy. Be pretty. Be strong. And make sure you have it “all together.” Achieve balance.
I don’t see those commands in the Bible. I see God telling us to love Him and to let our love for Him pour of our lives in everything we do.
Remembering the darkness that the Lord redeemed me from is what allows me to love Him first and foremost. He brought me, just like the Israelites, out of slavery. He made me into a new creation. Praise God for that. He loves me with ahava love. He changed my life; He called me into His Kingdom. I want to tell about His goodness all the day long!
My prayer is that I never forget the love God shows me and the freedom He gives me. I pray you won’t either. Think about the depths He called you out of and the new life He’s granted you. If we realize God loves us that much, how could we not love him with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength?
And if you are reading this and you’re thinking, I don’t know if I have been given a new life, then will you tell God that? Will you ask Jesus into your heart right here, right now--will you profess Him as Lord and Savior, and let His love transform you from the inside out?
He loves you, and He wants your love in return.