Sunday, May 24, 2015

Loving the Lord with no strings attached

About four months ago, I had the incredible opportunity to learn a lesson a really difficult way. It was a very painful, but very enlightening and spiritual experience. It was a happening that I look back upon often and I wouldn't trade it for the world. This experience utterly showed me that the way I was showing my love for my Father in Heaven was done with strings attached. I was living by an if - then principle; wanting something so intensely, more than I have ever wanted anything in my entire life and I do not say that loosely; however I was only showing my love for the Lord based on the outcome of the very thing my heart desired. I didn't recognize it immediately, but I was putting value on that thing more than I was putting value on the love I have for the Lord.

Ever since that day, I spend a lot of time pondering the magnitude of my love for the Lord and what strings are attached to the love I give to Him. When I don't see the blessings in front of me, can I still fully love Him the exact same as if I had everything I ever wanted surrounding me?

"In the scriptures we find only two situations in which we are commanded to love with all our hearts. We are commanded, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart" (Matthew 22:37) and "Thou shalt love thy wife [or husband] with all they heart" (D+C 42:22)." "President Spencer W. Kimball explained the meaning of this commandment: "When the Lord says with all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor diving nor depriving..." (Relief Society study guide, Follow me [1992], p.105) 

To make this a bit easier to explain, I'm not going to address loving your spouse with all your heart at the moment, don't worry I'm going to blog about marriage soon. I've thought a lot about the explanation President Kimball has given on loving with 'all thy heart'; to me I interpret it as not giving even an infinitesimal portion of love  to any other person or thing, above the love I have for my Father. Just fully and purely loving The One wholly and completely. The word dividing means to separate; so if we aren't to separate our love, we can't connect the love we give to the Lord to any of our hearts desires, no matter what. If God chooses not to bless us with the pleas and desires of our hearts, no matter how righteous of a desire it is, can we fully love Him anyways? We must or we would be going against the first and greatest of the ten commandments. Can we trust Him and openly accept His will for us and show our love to Him no matter the consequence? Depriving would be to deny or refuse to give it, holding some part of our heart back. If something happens that upsets us or isn't going our way, do we deprive our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, even if just a slight portion of it? I hope this isn't the case because no matter what we have or don't have, we are absolutely nothing without Him just as Mosiah 4:11 teaches. I LOVE that it says 'unworthy creatures'; I am extremely sensitive and I used to not like this phrase. But isn't it wonderful that Heavenly Father can teach us humility through a bold manner while still loving us absolutely so perfectly?  

Mosiah 4:11 
"And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humilitycalling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel."

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would do anything for it? Have you ever had a desire in your heart that you would pay the price no matter what cost Heavenly Father asked you to pay? That was my experience and it was in that moment that I realized I was letting a diminutive portion of my faith be based upon that desire. Once I realized that my exceptional righteousness and love I was offering and living was connected to what my heart truly aspired, I was so ashamed. Heavenly Father taught me this in the most gentle and compassionate way but I hadn't understood it until once again what I wanted was withheld and taken from me. That was the moment I knew I needed to work harder at loving my Heavenly Father with 'all thy heart'. 

Here's the thing about loving Heavenly Father, your spirit loves Him perfectly, but YOU have to recognize just how much you love Him and that takes work. It takes discipline and tons of work because you have to know someone or at least have a connection with them to love them, wouldn't you agree?

Let's take a mother with an unborn child. I'm assuming her love for that child is so pure and powerful during those 9 months of carrying the child, thinking of the child, preparing for the child, and worrying about the child. She loves the child because of her personal connection with the child, it's inside her. But once the child is born, and she sees the child, holds the child, and learns of the child - I can only imagine that the love she had before is now completely expanded to unexplainable but infinite level. 

So let's take that back to Heavenly Father. We understand He is our Father and we love Him and we recognize that He cares about us and we are indebted to Him and our Savior Jesus Christ. But I've come to realize in my own life that the more I really take the time to spend with Him, get to know Him, learn of Him, and become like Him; the more I recognize and understand the love I have for Him on a completely higher level.  

I believe your spirit can know something and believe in something, but both your heart and head have to be on the same page or your actions will not convey what your beliefs or feelings really are. So, shouldn't we take the time to really get to know Heavenly Father so we can understand the love our individual spirits have for Him? 

But how do we really get to know Heavenly Father? It takes the work of coming to understand His words and knowing the language He speaks in, both in the scriptures and to you personally. It takes faith of believing that He will bless you and believing that He has your best interest at heart at all times and in all things. It takes speaking to Him on a regular if not constant basis to learn of His ways, His patterns, His desires, His will, and all you can understand of Him on this side of the veil. The more I seek to learn of Him and make an effort to have a very strong connection and relationship with Him, the deeper I feel my love for Him grow in my heart. It's a wonderful feeling when I am asked to give up and sacrifice something dear to my heart, then I can more fully come running to Him realizing I have absolutely nothing without Him.

I'm so grateful for the painful experiences in my life that help me to love the Lord 'with all thy heart'. I never want Him to question my love for Him. I want to show Him the signs that He is my everything. 

President Benson said "To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—to a love of the Lord." 

I can think of two perfect examples of loving God a whole heart. Our savior who gave his entire life for us and for Him so willingly and selflessly that there are no words to describe it. His love for our Father was perfect and infinite and we must follow after His example even though we can't comprehend what he did for us or the agony he suffered. The second example is Abraham who was told to sacrifice his son Issach, whom he had waited years to even have. He loved God more than His very own son and He was selflessly willing to do all that was asked of Him, can you imagine?

In this moment, I am making a resolve to love my Heavenly Father with my whole heart, might, mind, and strength, holding nothing back with no strings attached. It's important for us to evaluate daily where we stand in loving the Lord.

Write in your journal today about the love you show Heavenly Father!
1. Do you know Heavenly Father with your full heart or do you just know of Him?
2. Can you honestly say you love the Lord with 'all thy heart'?
3. Is that love dependent on certain blessings you have or wish to have? If you lost everything or you were asked to do the hardest thing you can imagine, would you still love the Lord just as much or are there strings attached?
4. What can you do today to show Heavenly Father just how pure your love is?
5. What does it mean to put God first to you personally?

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