By Jayna Coppedge
It wasn’t that I didn’t know Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” I memorized that decades ago. I also knew that I demonstrated my love for God by obeying Him. My problem was that my love for God was circumstantial.
I loved God when I felt good, and life was easy. I loved Him when I thought of my salvation, Jesus dying on the cross, and heaven. I loved Him when the praise music was right and I had to keep from dancing.
When He let the car break, when I could not afford to buy fast food hamburgers, when people hurt my feelings—I did not love God much. I believed that unconditional love was only in fairy tales, just like “they lived happily ever after.” I am grateful that God did not leave me ignorant and miserable.
While I was leading a group through the book “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby, I realized that I did not love God. Although I had been a Christian for over twenty years, my relationship with God was more intellectual than emotional. At that point, I began to pray, “Teach me to love You.”
Having my own children changed my view of God as Father. I cheered my toddler’s first steps, and cuddled my kids when they stumbled. God revealed to me that His reaction to my failures was not anger or frustration. Psalms 103:13, 14: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
My transformation accelerated as I quit studying the Bible as a “life manual.” No longer did I read the Bible for what it could do for me; I read to know God. I became fascinated with God.
I asked God to make me thirsty for Him. He answered my prayer by guiding me to spend more leisure time with Him. Occasionally I carve out an hour or two without media or interruption. I think of it as just hanging out with God. Together, we might read the Bible, sing through the hymnbook, or go for a walk. I do not feel God’s presence every time, but I do it anyway. By focusing on Him without expecting anything in return, I am saying, “God, you decide what we do together.”
During our time alone, God healed me from the defective love in my childhood. 1 John 4: 19: “We love because he first loved us.” Once I was open to His unconditional love, I learned to love him back with my heart, soul, and mind. This is not a passing emotional high. My circumstantial love dissolved when I fell in love with God.
Can you tell us about when you fell in love with Jesus? We would love to hear your story.
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