Growing up, I’ve been conditioned to believe that when you find that person you love, there will be that romantic spark, the “Aha!” moment, and the instant chemistry. Friends would tell me about their instant, romantic attractions to different people throughout high school and college, and I would wonder why I don’t have those kinds of sparks/instant attractions to people very often like my friends often have.
This played out in my relationship with God as well, and I began to grow disappointed/shameful at myself for not having that passionate, fiery love for God. I questioned whether I was loving God enough, because I wouldn’t feel those intense feelings all the time. For the past year, I would constantly pray to God, “How can I love you more? Why don’t I feel those zealous feelings of love for you right now?” Sometimes when the Holy Spirit really stirred my heart I would have those fervent, fiery feelings for God–but when I didn’t, I thought something was wrong with me and I felt guilt/shame for not having those intense feelings anymore.
But loving God is more than just feeling like loving Him, it’s more than a burst of fire. I think loving God can be illustrated as a sustained, constant fire in our hearts. A fire that’s sometimes waved into bursts and sometimes dimmer than usual, but burning brightly in our hearts no matter what.
When we constantly look for those fiery feelings, we’re relying on those bursts of fire to love God. In a sense that may not seem like such a bad thing, but it can be since we’re solely relying on emotions/feelings to love God. But the truth is, to love is more than to just feel.
Love is a command. Love is something we choose to do, beyond our feelings. A post from Desiring God reads, “The command to love God with everything, and others as ourselves, often assaults this kind of love, oppresses our natural cravings, and inconveniences our self-actualization.
Love your neighbor as yourself regardless if they have wronged you
Love your neighbor as yourself no matter how unpopular they are
Love your neighbor as yourself notwithstanding the fact that they embody every pet peeve that you didn’t even realize you had until you met them
Love God with everything no matter how busy you are
Love God with everything no matter how angry with Him you may be
Love God with everything no matter how sick, tired, or confused you are”
Doing love means loving others and loving God even when our flesh innately resists it– when we don’t feel it.
Love embodies both the intense emotions and the command to love. Love can consist of those passionate, romantic feelings but that’s not all there is to it. Love means responsibility and commitment. It means choosing and committing to the God or the person we love even when we don’t always have those passionate, romantic feelings. We can see this a perfect version of this love in God’s love for us. God’s love for us is utterly perfect. The truth is, He doesn’t always have these romantic, passionate feelings for us all the time, but He still chooses to love us. He still kept His promise. Through the Old Testament, there were so many times where He was absolutely enraged and appalled with His people because of sin. But out of His enduring love for us, He committed to His promise of offering us His own son to die for our sins. That is absolutely astounding! His love is truly enduring and committed.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5
This is a command. You SHALL love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your might. Not just when you feel like it. Just as God was enduring and committed in His love for us, let us stay committed and choose to love God with the entirety of our souls.