There is an amazing peace that fills you when you love the Lord first and foremost. And conversely, there is unrest and inner turmoil when you don’t.
This week has been a strange one. We started with a wonderful Memorial Day celebration on Monday, followed by an ER trip for Matt on Tuesday, then news that my Grandmother is in her last stages of life on Wednesday, to a trip to the hand surgeon with Matt to discover he needs surgery on Thursday. These are just the “highlights”–of course this week has also been sprinkled with driving kids to summer jobs, visiting/caring for my grandmother, visiting with family, cooking, cleaning, phone calls and general life.
Not only does life come at you fast, it also gives us ups and downs at alarming rates. The funny thing is that even with ups and downs, God’s peace is absolutely amazing and unexplainable.
I was talking to a friend about this, about this eerily peaceful state that takes over in the middle of a crazy string of unexpected, life altering stuff like this.
Peace that tells you that God is here and near, that He’ll never leave you and that He’s working. The peace brings an awareness of God’s presence that is unusual and is a rare gift. “Lo, I am with you always.” I don’t need to fear.
Yet other times, when things are calm and normal, peace seems elusive. Why?
Peace has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with “first love.” Loving God first, knowing His character, and resting and embracing whatever He brings.
Obviously, knowing about God, knowing proper theology, adhering to a certain creed is not the same as knowing and loving God personally.
We make our own Christian lives hard, when we give a nod to Biblical teaching but don’t love Him as we should. Christianity becomes an exercise of the mind.
We find ourselves in a predictable pattern of…
stumble, trip, fall, fail, oops, did I just say that, did I just do that, how could I say that, how could I do that, guilt, discouragement, despair, try harder, read more, do more, study more, try more…
and on and on this pattern goes, because we’re trying to live a life of will without the love to propel it. Head knowledge, yes, but misplaced heart affections.
This is putting a band-aid on cancer instead of addressing the root issue which is our love. We’ve left our first love and have tried to play the part.
We lack victory because our heart and head are not in agreement. Our head says “A” but our heart tugs “B”. If our heart tugged “A” then our minds would quickly follow.
Love must come first. (Imagine this in a “loveless” marriage where the guy has read all the books and has tried all the tricks, but it’s clear by his daily life that there is no real love for his wife. He wouldn’t have to try so hard if his wife was truly the center of his affections.)
This is especially troublesome for those of us who were brought up in Christian homes. We’ve known Christianity from infancy, but knowledge of God cannot do what the love for God constrains us to do, which is obey.
For those who were raised in Christian homes, our minds know THINGS–BIBLICAL THINGS–but our hearts love other things. God won’t allow us to live in our own little tidy, spic-and-span, look-good-on-the-outside-because-we-dressed–up-for-church delusional worlds. God calls us on it. He calls our hearts for what they are: Your heart is “far from Me.” Far. Distant. Away.
Loving God with all of your heart is the primary thing. Trying to obey God without loving Him is putting the cart before the horse.
That’s why years of Christian education does not ensure a healthy, vibrant, thriving Christian walk. This is why pastors in the news can be charged with immorality and criminal behavior against children even though they know scripture inside and out. Their first love was not God and what He loved…it was some twisted, dark desire that ruled them and then ruined them. And that is why we, too, refuse to love that unlovely person, carry a grudge for years against another person, look at immorality on the screen, tell someone else off in an angry outburst, or overindulge the flesh to the point of addictions, even to the hurt and ruin of others around us, all the while donning a dress or tie on Sunday morning.
Who or What you love most rules you and determines what you’ll chase.
Our heart can be pursuing that one earthly thing, that small g-god, all the while our mental assent to a creed has not changed. Our mind affirms Biblical teaching, but our behavior betrays our heart.
When our heart’s true love is on earthly things…
for admiration, for love, for a change in health, for a new job, for a better set of in-laws, for a more understanding church, for an obedient child, for a positive pregnancy test, for a husband, for a new home or couch or car or whatever…
the desire controls us and we cannot love God as we should.
We need to pry our hearts off of temporal things and clasp on to loving God again as we should. First. Most. Only. Life is supposed to work that way. We are made for this.
Life is peace-filled and joy-filled when He truly is first in our affections. Our circumstances may not have changed, but He changes us! And suddenly, it is well with my soul.