Several weeks ago, I started praying for God to change who I am. I asked Him:
- that I will love Him with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind.
- that I will love my neighbor as myself.
- that I will become a woman of prayer
- that God will remove obstacles to me loving Him and praying daily/constantly
- that I will learn to pray through Scripture
- that I will communicate to others what God teaches me.
There is still much progress to be made. Last week was pretty miserable. I think I managed to sit down and really concentrate on God and listening to God once, maybe twice. Pitiful. I have confessed this. God has forgiven me. And, He has given me a renewed motivation to get back in the habit of spending my time with Him.
And so, I thank God. I thank Him for the renewed motivation. I thank Him for removing stumbling blocks. I thank Him for encouragement. I thank Him for being with me during those quiet times. And, I thank Him for using that time to draw me closer to Him. I am grateful and cautiosly pleased.
As the last several weeks have progressed, there is a question I've been contemplating ...
What does it mean to love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind?
I've been contemplating that question a lot recently.
What does it look like when your love for God is total, complete, 100% of who you are? Is it different to love God with your heart than with your soul than with your mind? Why does Matthew22:34-40 include heart, soul and mind, but Mark 12:28-34 says heart, soul, mind and strength? Are these different? How so?
Heart. Hmmm. It seems to me that there are some differences. In our 2009 American culture, loving God with all your heart - that seems to be our emotions. That's an area I definitely have problems in. I'm not overwhelmed with loving emotions for God. Sometimes I am. It seems like every time I listen to Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)" I cry. I get so overwhelmed with God's forgiveness and grace for my rebellion, disobedience and down right stupidity. That song almost always bring me to tears.
But, honestly, I usually walk through my days without that feeling. Without any emotional outpouring toward God. Don't get me wrong. I do love God. That is one thing that the last 6 weeks of prayer and time with God have taught me. I do love God. But, like I've said before, I don't think it's with all my heart.
So, what about loving God with all your soul?
Soul. What does that mean? If we're separating ourselves into parts here -- is that my personality? That's not usually what we mean when we say "soul." We often say "God saves our soul." We refer to our soul going to heaven. If we are believers in Christ, saved by his grace -- is it possible for us to not love God with all our soul? Mmmm. Deep questions. Too deep for right now. This will take more study, more contemplation, more revelation from God.
Okay, what about loving God with all your mind?
Mind. Since I seem to be separating myself into parts here, I'm thinking God's talking about our priorities at this point. He's talking about how we think. Do we let God lead and control the way we think? Do we let God and His word guide the way we interpret the secular messages we receive? Do we let God determine what we do first? Do we let Him influence every decision we make? These are all a part of our mind.
For myself, again, I think the the answer is no. Too often, I take control. I forget to consult God in what I'm going to do for the day. I forget to consider His ways, His thoughts, His priorities when I'm making day-to-day decisions. It's easy to remember to ask God about the big decisions... "Should I take that job?", "Should I date/marry that man." "Should we have another baby?" "Should we buy that house?" Sure, I've consulted God on the big decisions in my life.
But, the little ones? Do I consult Him? Or do I just rely on the years of Godly teaching upbringing by pastors and teachers? Hmmm. Hadn't really thought of it in those terms before. I've been a Christian for many years. I do believe God has influenced the way I think about the activities I am involved in, the way I dress, the way I respond to minsunderstandings. I have learned to ignore or forgive minor (and some major) flaws in my family and friends.
Does this mean that I am in fact, letting God influence the way I think? Does this mean that God has influenced my priorities? Perhaps it does. If yes, then, does this mean that I love God with my mind?
I am still struggling. And so, I ask... What does it mean to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind? What does that look like in day-to-day 2009 American life?