I love Meagan’s definition of love as a practice, the act of showing up regularly for the most important people in life. Love is not primarily a feeling. It’s an action. It’s external proof of our heart’s internal position. And just as we “show up” for ourselves, our husbands, and our children, there is another person to consider in our efforts to live better: our Creator.
I believe we are each intentionally created for a specific purpose. God has a good plan for each of our lives, but if we are not intentionally “show up” to accept the adventure, we may miss out on it altogether.
So, how do we love God? Some attempt to boil loving God down to a checklist; do these things (go to church, read your Bible, be a good person), and don’t do those things, and you will prove your love for God. But to-do lists don’t lead to a loving relationship with anyone, and especially not with God. God doesn’t desire our good behavior. He desires our worship—our loving Him above all else.
“You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your might.”
Loving God is much more about what is happening on the inside of us than on the outside. The funny thing is, as we “show up” for God with our internal efforts, our everyday external decisions are affected.
Let’s take a deeper look at each component of what loving God internally looks like.
Love God with All Your Heart
My heart is the compass of my life. I am driven by the dreams and direction of my heart. Before I began a relationship with God, my goals were self-oriented. I wanted to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. But when God took hold of my heart, I was given the ability to surrender my plans for self-promotion and gratification in order to seize a new God-given purpose.
This journey of surrender has been just that—a journey. ‘Cause I still want what I want, and that does not always line up with God’s plan. But as I continue to learn what it means to love God with all my heart, I’ve become more aware of the direction of my heart and the importance of keeping it on track.
“Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.”
Proverbs 4:23 NLT
My heart is fallen, full of sin, and continually thrown out of a God-centered alignment. When my heart’s trajectory is off-center, just like when the wheels on my car are out of alignment, there is a constant effect on the course of my life. In order to love God with all my heart, I must regularly take a good look at my internal compass. Is it God-centric or Katie-centric?
“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,”
Psalm 119:2 ESV
Every moment of every day I have a choice: to allow my heart to continue down the default path or to pick it up and re-center it on the path to godliness and be vigilant to cast aside whatever threatens to take me off course.
“My child, listen and be wise:
Keep your heart on the right course.”
Proverbs 23:19 NLT
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- What path is my heart aligned to? Is it my own path and plan, or is it set to follow God’s purpose for my life?
- Is it time for a tune-up? What can I do today to re-align my heart to God’s best plan for my life?
Love God with All Your Soul
While the heart houses my direction, the soul stores my affections.
The original Hebrew word used for the soul in Deuteronomy 6:5 holds a connotation of drawing a breath. My soul breathes, and it will draw in whatever environment I put it in. From my soul flows my desires, and my desires affect my decisions. So, if I want to love God better, I must take a close look at what my soul is inhaling.
God created each of us with a craving for His presence, though I don’t always recognize it as such. My soul is thirsty, and just like a newborn child, it must be fed often.
“Blessed is the man who[se] …
delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.”
I’m not much of a cook, but I do enjoy making soup, especially when it involves a crockpot. My favorite recipe as of late is a creamy tomato and chicken soup. Throughout the day, the chicken cooks amidst the tomatoes and Italian herbs, resulting in a perfectly seasoned (and super-simple) soup.
Just like the chicken in a good crockpot recipe, our soul will take on the flavors of whatever it’s stewing in. If we surround our soul primarily in negativity, materialism, and/or selfishness, our affections will follow suit. We will find pleasure in pity parties or angry rants, shopping for things we don’t really need, and/or having our every whim met, regardless of the cost.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ESV
Yet, Jesus came to give us a life. A life well lived, not a life seeking after what will never ever satisfy our soul. Only the presence of God can do that. You and I can experience God in our every moment. Through a deep and daily relationship with Him, our soul can stew in the very recipe it was created for. It calls for regular time in the Bible, continual communication with God through prayer, and being amidst His people, through a local, healthy church.
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- What is my soul stewing in? What am I surrounding myself with to allow my soul to breathe in the abundant life God has promised?
- What do I feed my soul instead of God’s presence? The attention of others? Food? A new pair of shoes?
- How can I love God better with the surroundings of my soul today?
Love God with All Your Might
There is a basket of clothes sitting in my bedroom. It is a revolving door of sorts, with clean clothes that never seem to get put away. I sift through it just about every day to find what I need and think to myself, “I really need to put these clothes up.” But it doesn’t happen. There is a part of me that desires a neat bedroom. I’d love to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Yet, my room stays cluttered and messy.
Chalk it up to busyness, life with littles, or whatnot, but the bottom line is: I find the time to do want I want to do. I had time today to clean out that basket, but I chose to take a much-needed nap instead. This weekend I had ample time to clean up the mess, but I played outside with the kids, went thrift shopping for books, and watched several episodes of my latest Netflix obsession. I say I want a clean room, but I continually make choices to spend my time and energy elsewhere.
I’m a conflicted soul.
You might feel this way when it comes to loving God. You say you want a deeper relationship with Him. You want to read the Bible, stay in the fellowship of His people, and offer up your resources to the furthering of His Kingdom, but you find yourself making choices contrary to this desire.
We’re all conflicted, aren’t we?
“I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”
Romans 7:19 NLT
Loving God with all my might is a fight, and there is a battle within me that puts my struggle with the laundry basket to shame. Scripture points me again and again to action; I am to press on, put on, throw off, struggle, work out, sir up, and more. Loving God requires action.
“Fight the good fight of the faith.”
1 Timothy 6:12 ESV
If I wanted a clean room bad enough, I would have it. If I want to spend time with God, I will do it. It will be hard, it will take intentionality, but I will do it. And it all starts with a cry out to the God of all strength, who gives might to those who ask.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” Ephesians 6:10 ESV
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- Where is my energy going? What takes up most of my resources?
- Where do I feel conflicted the most in my relationship with God?
- What choice can I make today to love God with all my might better?
Grace-clinger. Truth-speaker. Katie is passionate about equipping others to walk intimately with God for a lifetime. Katie currently serves as the Social Media Specialist and Community Manager for Flourish.me, a ministry of the North American Mission Board to ministry wives. Learn more about Katie on her website KatieOrr.me.