Many people find it difficult to enjoy a valuable and rewarding relationship with God and that most definitely, includes me. Even after thirty years of interacting with Him, I still find myself frequently evaluating the status of our relationship. Checking to see if my perception of our relationship matches His.
As is true with many of my other relationships, occasionally, I find out that we are definitely not in sync.
When we do get to this stage, I find myself having conversations with Him around three very core principles that provide the foundation for our entire relationship. These three principles are:
(1) Love God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul
(2) Love myself
(3) Love others
Lately, I have been reflecting on some of the obstacles that lead to me not loving God with all my heart and I realize that this has been mainly due to me not trusting Him, not having faith in Him and fear. Today, I will be talking about how a lack of trust can influence our efforts towards loving God.
I must love God with all my heart, all my mind and all my strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5).
My most recent conversation with God reminded me of some of the reasons why I really struggle to love God the way I should.
Mainly, it is because I find it easier to trust myself than to trust Him and maybe you will find that this is true for you too.
Although, the Scriptures indicate that we must trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6), I find myself repeatedly doing the opposite of that.
It is more comfortable for me to rely on my own ways of thinking and doing things than it is to rely on His ways of doing things. I like to think that I know and understand myself more than I know and understand Him and so my confidence lies in my own abilities to make things happen and to get things done. So when it comes to loving Him, my disposition tends to be the same.
Recently, I read an article, by Tony Evans and he provided a definition for love that, in theory, I do believe to be true. He said that love can be interpreted as "the sacrifice you make for the betterment of someone else".
This he gleaned from Ephesians 5:25 which says, “Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her”.
For the betterment of someone else, huh?
I struggle to do things for the betterment of God.
Many times my deepest motivations for doing things are guided by
what I think is better for me, not what is better for God.
In essence, I am often more preoccupied with loving myself than I am with loving Him.
In an effort to grow in this area, I reference the life of the psalmist David to get encouragement towards loving God.
Although David was fiercely passionate about trusting God, he was also very transparent about his own trust issues with Him. On many occasions, he would look at others whom he considered to be enemies of God and notice that they were prospering incredibly.
He questioned God periodically about this.
Psalm 10 verses 1-5 aptly expresses this:
“Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.”
David was perplexed about why God would allow His enemies to prosper. David felt that God didn’t respond quickly to his distress, it caused Him to sometimes doubt God. God’s slowness to act on his behalf made David feel like God wasn’t being fair or just. In his opinion, a swift response would have been more just.
In the same way, I sometimes struggle to trust God wholeheartedly, because I think He makes decisions about my life that do not feel favorable. At that moment, His actions do not appear to be just or loving.
For example, when I am being plagued with the discomforts of illness and the healing seems too far away for comfort. I often feel that God in all His greatness is not without the power to heal me, immediately. So why doesn't He?
If the definition of love above (as described by Tony Evans) is true, then sometimes I feel like God isn't loving me the way He should. He is not making enough sacrifices for me. These are the kinds of reasons why I hesitate to trust God, consequently, struggle to love Him.
But just like David, in spite of moments of doubting God, I have to remind myself of who God is when I feel like God has let me down.
I, sometimes, forget who He is when I experience injustice or feel cheated. I forget that He is not like me or others who neglect to keep their word. When He says He will do something, He means it.
He has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
This means that any state of weakness or brokenness that we find ourselves, He is still there. He has not left us. He is still actively loving us – sacrificing to make us better. Even if His way of sacrificing looks different than ours. His ways of resolving our life challenges is better in the end.
David’s way of moving himself through his phases of mistrust, was not limited to remembering who God is but also to remember how God had looked out for his well-being in the past. In Psalm 103 verse 2, David urges himself to not forget God’s benefits because His benefits are evidence of goodness.
In other words, while we are waiting on God to act on our behalf, we are to celebrate the good things that God has already done. In the consequent verses he proceeds to remind himself that God has healed him; delivered him from disastrous situations and persisted to love him even when he has wronged Him.
So, on the days when I struggle with illness and I am feeling full of doubt, I remind myself that God has healed me in the past and that was an expression of His love.
This same loving God will heal me again even if to me, the waiting period seems extremely long. On the days when the challenges of marriage and raising children keep piling up and at times are overwhelming and stressful, I nudge myself to celebrate the times when He gave me insights on how to resolve relational issues with my husband and children.
When I remember what He has done, I remember who He is.
When I recall who He is, I remember why I can still trust and love Him.
Although our tendency to focus on the negative things in our life sometimes causes us to think that God is neglecting us and not loving us, reminding ourselves to celebrate the good things that God has done for us and others can help us to keep His loving character in focus.
He is a God that allows challenging things to happen for our growth but He is also a God that always has our well-being and prosperity in mind. I choose to love Him because of that.
What are some things that sometimes hold you back from loving God the way you should?
Share it with me in the comments section below.