Wednesday, February 07, 2007

All You Need is Love?

This Christmas I was reminded of a simple but powerful truth through my three-year-old nephew. As my extended family gathered around the dinner table one night and prepared to say grace, Caedon confidently asked if he could be the one to pray. With a quick glance around the table at the amused smiles on the faces of the grandparents, uncles and aunties, my sister-in-law consented and then quickly added, "but don't forget to thank Jesus for the food OK?" He nodded his head in agreement, squeezed his eyes tightly shut, and lifted his little face toward heaven:

"Dear Jesus," he said passionately, "how I love you!"

While what followed next was in all honesty gibberish (there were several comments about a space-ship, his momma, his brother and other things we couldn't quite figure out), it was the way he chose to open his prayer that intrigued me. It amazed me that in one small opening statement, my three year old nephew grasped the simple truth that so many adults fail to understand. The truth that all that matters in life is loving the One who created us.

Several years ago during a conversation with some friends, the question of knowing God’s will came up. In response, a friend said that he believed the answer was summed up in the greatest commandment - "to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul." (Matthew 22:37) Going on he explained that if you truly love God with all that you have, everything else would fall into place.

I have thought about that conversation a lot through the years, and was again reminded of it upon hearing my nephew’s heart-felt prayer. Loving God doesn't suddenly mean you’ll have all the answers to life. Nor does it mean that the journey will be easy. Instead, loving or delighting (Psalm 37:4) ourselves in the Lord means focusing so much on Him that we see nothing else. Loving the Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls means finding pure joy and peace in His presence. And as we do this our plans and desires for our life gradually align with His own. What He wants for us becomes what we want.

My three-year-old nephew may not yet fully understand what loving God with all his heart, mind and soul means, but his simple “how I love you” prayer is 100% on the mark. Loving God fully, completely, and passionately with eyes tightly shut as we hang on for the ride of our lives means that all our needs – including the food we so often forget to thank Him for – will be met. He alone should be our desire, our delight and our love. All we need is an all consuming love for Him, and everything else will fall into place.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:34-40)

Monday, February 05, 2007


I hate waiting. I'm a terrible waiter. Waiting patiently for something - anything - is so hard for me. I couldn't wait to start my life - thus why I was premature at birth; I can't wait for Christmas day without complaining that it's taking too long; I can't wait for the next episode of my favourite TV programs so I go online to see if I can read any spoilers; I hate waiting for people to make up their minds about things; and I am going crazy waiting today for the birth of my fourth nephew! Merriam-Webster defines the word "wait" as "to stay in place in expectation of," and for me it's the expectation of things that kills me -- especially when what you are expecting is good!

But Merriam-Webster also lists "to remain stationary in readiness or expectation" and "to be ready and available" among it's many possible definitions for the word "wait." And these definitions got me thinking about the ultimate wait for the Christian -- the wait for the Lords return; the wait for Heaven. I'm called to wait expectantly for the Lord's return - to wait "in readiness" for the day when He appears and calls me home. Waiting in readiness doesn't mean that I anxiously check the sky every few minutes, or searching the web for signs (spoilers?) of His impending return. No, waiting in this sense means ensuring that when it happens I am ready. Ready for the divine appointments He sends my way; ready for times when my faith will be tested. Ready to boldly stand before Him knowing that I have lived a life worthy of Him; ready to account for all I have done with the life He has given me. Ready to hear what every Christian eagerly anticipates... His embrace and His words "well done good and faithful servant."

Yes, I'm in a place of expectation for the nephew yet to be born today, and for the nail-biting episodes of Prison Break and Heroes airing tonight; but while I'm waiting impatiently for the things of this world, I'm also getting ready with expectation for the day of all days. I'm getting ready for when/if I am ever tested to prove my love for the Lord; getting ready to stand before Him and bear my wounds. I'm getting ready to look in my Father's face, fall at His feet and rest in His embrace. What are you waiting/ready for?

I don't worry about the wounds that
may come from following Christ. For when I am face-to-face with the Big Judge He will ask me "where are your wounds?" And if I haven't any, He will say "was there nothing worth fighting for?" ~unknown

Saturday, February 03, 2007

What If...

Do you remember the TV drama "Felicity?" I never watched it much with it was actually on air, but now that it's being shown as a re-run on W Network I've been tuning in. Its airs at a great time for me - Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. - right when I'm planning out my day and enjoying my Saturday morning coffee. It's a frivolous drama really, but it's fun to watch none-the-less.

The episodes airing right now have been the ones that apparently led up to the end of the show. In these last few shows, Felicity (who has been journeying through her four years of university in the series) has finally graduated and is moving on in her life. But as her life moves on, and she discovers that her boyfriend (Ben) has cheated on her, she begins to wonder what her life would have been like if Noel (a friend and former beau) and her had gotten together instead. So, as only they can do on television, she travels back in time to that pivotal moment when she had made the choice to be with Ben, not Noel, in the hopes of changing that decision - thus ending up with Noel.

As the shows proceed, Felicity soon learns that you can't go back and change things without completely changing everything. As she starts tampering with the past, critical things that she knew about the future were being changed forever. She panics then when she realizes what she's done.

It all got me thinking about that dangerous question we often mull over... "what if?" We've all looked back at our past and wondered it... "what if I had chosen this major instead of that?" "what if I had moved here instead of there?" "what if I had dated him?" etc. I say it's dangerous because entertaining such thoughts can often - as in Felicity's case - ruin our future. We can get so caught up looking back, that we can miss the wonderful things right in front of us - the things that are real. Everyone has regrets in life, it's what makes us human, but those regrets are a valuable piece of who we are and what we have learned in life. Yes, I've often wondered what would have happened if I had said "yes" to that guy I had a huge crush on in high school, or if I had pursued a different career path; but then I look at what God did with those decisions, I can see His hand in it all. Looking back often allows you to see with 20x20 vision - looking back allows you to see what God saw all along.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Security Blanket

I had a funny thing happen to me at work today... my chair broke. Now to anyone else this would be a minor inconvenience in their day, but to me - believe it or not - it was huge. That chair had been my chair for over 11 years; that chair was comfortable for me. It was scuffed and worn in in all the right places, and perfectly contoured to my body after years of use. It was something familiar and unchanging in my world -- a welcome "security blanket" from the day to day ups and downs, trials and chaos that consumed my day.

As I sorted through other unused chairs in our office, and tried to find one that had even a hint of that familiarity that had stripped away from me, I had to chuckle at the ridiculousness of my feelings. In a world where so much tragedy and heartache loom, my chair agony seemed so insignficant in the grand-scheme of things. But it still felt huge to me.

It got me thinking about where I place my trust and security. Do I really place all my faith and hope in an office chair? No, obviously not. But do I tend to rely on earthly things for that daily comfort and sense of calm? Yes, I believe I do. And there in lies my problem.

As a Christian I am taught to put my hope, trust and security in Jesus - the Author and Finisher of my faith. I know this in theory, but it's often hard to put this into practice. My chair fiasco today reminded me of how important it is not to put all my hope in the things the world has to offer for they will fade (or break!). Rather I need to put my hope in Him. The Lord is the only truly faithful and steadfast thing I can count on in a world out of control. He is my Rock and my Salvation. He is my Comforter and Provider. He is rest for my weary soul.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28