Love the Lord Thy God
Deuteronomy 6:5 decrees, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (NIV) To give some context to this verse, in chapter three Moses is not permitted to cross over the river into the Promised Land. The chapters in between detail how Israel is to live in their new land. Included in these verses are the Ten Commandments. And verse four says, “Hear, O Israel; ‘The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” We see this command to love God echoed by Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I have always loved this directive to love God. I have found a sense of freedom knowing that I am supposed to love Him with all that I am and all that I have, my very being.
Paul ends his second letter to the Thessalonians with the prayer, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV) The words soul, spirit, being, heart, mind, emotions all can get rather fuzzy as to who means what when. However, I think God gives us permission to explore and grapple with these words, their meaning, and the parts of us they try to define and describe.
As a woman, I know I am emotional. At some point in my life, I read somewhere that emotions were not a fact or truth but were an indicator of something bigger going on in one’s life. I tend to think of emotions like the lights on a dashboard in a car. The check oil light means I need to see what is going on with the oil in my car. If I am feeling a bit sad/weepy, I should probably look at my life and see perhaps why I might be feeling that way and what action to take, if any. I have learned to not make decisions based on my emotions. It does not end well for anyone including myself. However, that does not mean that I ignore them, disengage from them, etc. No, that is dangerous too. I need to feel them and tend to them appropriately. Sometimes I need to just sit with an emotion and ride it out.
I think emotion is one reason why I really like worshipping God through music. It allows my emotions to be engaged. My emotions do not rule me while I am worshipping in this manner but it is amazing to be able to have the freedom to praise and extol him with a degree of abandoned joy and contentment, to be broken and deeply thankful and surrendered to Him on my knees when I realize what my Savior has done for me. Captivating; Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul boldly confirms that “In fact, there is no emotion you can bring up that Jesus can’t handle.” (p. 102) Emotions should be subject to the rule of Christ just as much as any other part of me. They should also be used to glorify and honor Him as well as to enhance the relationships that we have with one another.
I am not a theologian. I do not want to be one. However, I have been given a brain that is curious and asks questions and likes to learn. That is probably one reason why I have my masters degree and might also be one reason why I am a Speech Language Pathologist. I have to reason and solve problems. I must be observant and continuously learning. I think that my brain, my intellect, should be submitted to God. In reading books and blog posts recently, I came across the idea of delving into God and the mystery He is, not to conquer Him by learning everything about Him but to enjoy Him and know Him ever better. I think that is what He is calling me to do by loving Him with my whole being.
Perhaps not in your church circle, but in the one I grew up with, I was often reminded that my body is the temple of Christ. I know some people take this admonition to heart more than others. I know I take this more to heart at various times than at others. We must be careful how we care for our outward physical bodies. I would say that we also have to be carefully with the stimuli we give our brains - what we watch, listen to, and read, as well as the experiences we choose or allow ourselves to have. Our bodies need to be cared for in such a way that they may glorify God in all things.
Captivating explains that, “We are body, soul, and spirit. Each part affects the others in a mysterious interplay of life.” (p. 192) If Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly, no wonder the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength. So, how are you loving God with all of your being? I am doing it by belting out a favorite worship song with my arms high in utter abandonment. I am doing it by writing this blog, especially this post. I am doing it when I take my dog for a walk and when I cook a nourishing meal. And a myriad other ways.