Last year around Valentine's day I wrote a post called "All You Need is Love?". I've thought a lot about this since, and was reminded about it again today in something I was writing for work.
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, my nephew 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 completely unintelligible to most us around the table, 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.
Back in 1991, during a conversation with some friends, the question of knowing God’s will came up. In response, one of the guys in the group 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)