I think for a kid to say 'all my love' was probably sincere. At the moment. Some days all my love went to my dog Holly. Some days all my love was for a donut at the local donut shop if my dad could find time to take me. Or all my love was one of those rare moments when I had my parent's full attention. My point is, my love was fickle. Sad to say, it was then, and it often is now. In Luke 10:27 Jesus says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind..." (ESV) To love Him with all my heart, with my entire soul, my complete strength and with every bit of my mind. Oh Lord how I want to. I know there are moments where I feel like I may come close to that. When the planets align, there is nothing stressing on my mind, my body is well, the lights are just right. Now I'm being facetious. It is not my intention to be flippant here, but to make a point. I don't think we are ever 100% in it. But God knows that. He knows our hearts, He knows our issues, He knows that we are not yet perfect; yet He loves us anyway and He desires our best. Some days my best is curled up in bed just crying "Papa". Some days my best is worshiping with a freedom and boldness that surprises even me. Some days my best is just getting through the day, and at the end of it, lying in bed and giving thanks that He was with me through it all. As Paul said in Romans 7:15, "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." (ESV) He knew the struggle was real. That as much as we want to always do things honoring to the God we love, we often miss the mark. But Paul also said in Philipians 3:12, "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus." (ASV) If anyone could say they loved God to the best of their ability, it would be Paul. To paraphrase Luke 7:47, he who is forgiven much, loves much. Paul had been forgiven of so much, and he lived with an attitude of thankfulness and deep gratitude.
I think we can very easily become legalistic about it all. We are just going to make sure we love God, think of Him every moment, always give thanks, have a song on our lips, darn it. And inevitably we fail. Usually before we are out the door in the morning. Spilled my coffee all over my work clothes. No, really that was not a substandard word I used, honest. Can't find my car keys. Finally find them and head to work. Listening to lovely praise music on the radio, oh what bliss. HOOONNNKKK!! "You idiot", oh shoot, God sorry I said that, now back to praising, after this brief interruption. It's tax time. For me this is a stressful time as I do both business and personal. So my thoughts are on numbers and receipts and where in the world is that piece of paper?! Wait, oh yeah God, sorry I forgot about you for five minutes.
God does not want that kind of relationship. That is mechanical, robotic and a waste of time. After all, He knows our thoughts before we think them. He knows us in our innermost parts. He knows our faults and failings, for some of us there are more than for others. He knows it all, and He loves us still. He knows that we are not yet perfect, but that will one day come. He knows that we lose focus, get preoccupied, that our attention is easily diverted. But He also knows, at the end of the day where our hearts are.
We are often like little children. Playing with their toys, or just the cardboard boxes they came in. They are crashing their little cars or rocking their little baby dolls. They are bouncing off the walls with energy and then dropping off to sleep. They are cranky because they are hungry or so full they cannot think. But oh that moment when that little one goes to her parent with arms outstretched with no other desire than to be held. She is picked up and instantly rests her head against daddy's chest, feeling his heart beat. She pats mama's face and looks deep into her eyes. All the mess of the day, all the stress of work, all the things that seem to suck your attention and joy away fade into the distance. This is what it is all about. And God knows that. Playing with our 'toys', our phones taking too much time with their myriad videos and memes. We get busy with driving our cars to and fro, rocking our little ones to sleep. We run full tilt, fueled by caffeine until we collapse at the end of the day. We get 'hangry' and then crumple onto the couch in a food coma. But oh, that moment when we turn our faces to our Father and hold our arms out for nothing more than to let Him know that we love Him. We take the time to look into His word and we seek His wisdom. All of the mess of our day, the stress of our jobs, the things that suck our joy up just fade as we turn our attention to Him and rest in His presence, feeling His heart beat.
If anything, I think getting to that place of more time, more awareness, more devotion to Him is like growing a garden. It takes time cultivating the soil, planting the seeds, watching those plants grow and then enjoying the harvest. We need to set time aside for prayer. We need to make sure that we are in His word daily. We need to learn to worship Him not just in a corporate church setting but while we are cooking dinner, driving to the store, working in the garage. Turn on some music that fills your spirit with thoughts of Him. Take time to have that 'attitude of gratitude' and reflect on all that He has done in your life. Just sit outside and see all that He has created for your good pleasure. For some people, me included all of that is hard. But as I have been, especially lately getting back into the habit of spending time with the One who loves me I have been finding joy in that effort. It is not a burden, it is a relationship and I want it to grow as I get to know Him better.
So today, Valentine's day as you hand out cards and candy and flowers to all those you love don't forget the One and Only original Valentine. As you give that heart shaped box of chocolates, think of the One who literally gave His heart for you. As you watch your loved one read that specially chosen and very expensive Hallmark card, remember the One who wrote His love letter to you with the blood of His Son. As you smell those lovely roses, take in the scent of the One whose word says "For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ" (BSB, 2 Corinthians 2:15) I can feel that ooey gooey feeling even now. I feel like the most important person in the world as He says, "all my love...", oh that's the best! And I know He feels the same towards me as I hold out my grubby child-like hands with my homemade Valentine saying, "I love you Lord, with all of my heart".