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.
8/18/2017 10:54:17 pm
A good read and I can so relate. I struggle with trusting God with my children and this is something I wrestle with constantly. I have to remind myself that the love I have for my kids is only a shadow of God's love for them...( Remember that song, Only A Shadow). I honestly never grasped the meaning of that song until years later 😄😄😄. I reprimand myself alot when I am in those moments of doubt and it is in these moments that I question my love and faith. I am growing and a work in progress.
Kareen - Towards Loving
8/22/2017 09:55:25 pm
"I have to remind myself that the love I have for my kids is only a shadow of God's love for them" - This is sooo true! I often forget that He is the ULTIMATE parent and if anyone knows how to get the job done, it is Him.
8/19/2017 12:13:52 am
Beautifully written article. I struggle daily with my relationship with God but he continues to shape me. Being in this country my faith has grown tremendously. I thank him daily for it. I am learning to lean on God more than family and friends. The above has open my eyes to get back to basics 😀. Thanks my sister.
Kareen - Towards Loving
8/22/2017 10:04:02 pm
Your welcome, Drea!
8/19/2017 06:41:25 am
Have you ever met someone who liked you but for some reason you just couldnt like them? And then the person you like doesnt like you back? For some reason matters of the heart seem like a chase. We want those who dont want us and not those who want us. And when we get the person to finally love or like us, they dont seem so compelling anymore. I wonder if it is the same thing about loving God. Because logically speaking why wouldnt we love God. He is our creator, our Father, our brother, our friend.
8/21/2017 02:32:41 pm
I agree, sistren: "...its not so much that we don't love Him or believe that He loves us. It's that we want Him to love us the way we want to be loved."
Kareen - Towards Loving
8/22/2017 10:10:22 pm
"Because logically speaking why wouldn't we love God. He is our creator, our Father, our brother, our friend." - Here is a question I ponder daily! But that's for another post, eh? Thanks for that good analogy and an insightful response.
Great blog post! I love this part "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." It's so true! There are situations that allow me to experience God in certain ways and I give him those areas, I know Him as a Healer, financial provider and Redeemer. I hold on to my decisions relating to my career because I am learning to trust Him as my Counselor and Father who gives good gifts.
Kareen - Towards Loving
8/22/2017 10:33:48 pm
Indeed Ro! Some things are much easier to let go than others.
8/21/2017 03:23:45 pm
How do I feel about Loving God and what affects my ability to love him as I should...?? *Sigh* It's very much a matter of ego on my end. Wanting to be in control at all times instead of having the same intimacy and reverence in which John has when he gives his account of the true essence of Christ. He describes Jesus' absolute, unrestricted submission to God the Father. However, with me, there is often an absence or limitation to selflessness with my "intended expression" of loving God, and it often reflects/spills-over into my relationship with people. So, lacking on a day-to-day, event-to-event basis, I openly admit to having my own struggle with not entirely being absence of the body and present with the Lord. But with my growing consciousness, its addressed almost immediately, without any feeling of shortcoming or self-chastisement... instead I remind myself that I am as Jesus is, created in the image of the father, having the ability to Love Selflessly. I actively seek opportunities to express it. And, Oh, those are in abundance... I try to grab hold of them and thank him endlessly. But, it just never seems like enough. Hence, why our expression of Love will forever be "Only A Shadow," cause even Paul never master it. Guess the goal and joy in it is knowing Abba always rooting us on to keep on trying... like John Gray says, the loving father is very much like a parent encouraging his wobbly-legged infant to keep trying to master the walk.
8/22/2017 02:07:48 am
I absolutely enjoyed this post Kareen. It was indeed a good read- I could not stop even though my eyes grew weary (I started reading after 12:30 AM so you can imagine :D) as it was so entrancing. What makes it so hard for me to love and trust God fully is perhaps because of my inability to see and hear Him the way I would like to as well
8/22/2017 09:54:18 pm
Great post! Keep up the good work! 😄😄👌👍
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I help women overcome chronic stress and reconnect with their purpose and passions in a way that revitalizes and energizes them.