Living into the love of God
I have been thinking a lot about the love of God. I am getting ready to do a spiritual retreat with a group of doctors this morning and then tomorrow head down to Portland to speak at the Word Made Flesh Conference. In both cases I had intended to focus on prayer but God keeps bringing me back to the need focus instead on “learn to love me more.” Trust and faith are products of love I realize. Trust and faith do not occur spontaneously, nor do they come with focusing on our need to trust and have faith. Trust and faith come by learning to love the God who is trustworthy in all circumstances.
A few weeks ago someone left a comment on one of my posts with a quote from St. Teresa of Avila, “Remember: if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love.” This too resonated in my soul.
Prayer is not about getting down on our knees to talk to God. Nor is it about praying for the needs of the world. It is about falling in love and staying in love with God as we converse with and interact with the One who fills every fiber of our being.
What awakens us to the love of God which formed us, transforms us, sustains us and empowers us? What awakens us to the love of God so that we crave that intimate place of communion with the lover of our souls? Not just when we sit down in a place of retreat where we intercede for others, but moment by moment of every day in the ordinary routines and activities of life?
This is the question that I think is at the heart of the gospels. Jesus’ whole life is about learning to love the God who is love. That is why James calls “love of God and love of neighbor” the royal law. That is why Jesus spent so much time drawing aside to quiet places to pray. That is why the disciples longed to learn how to pray as Jesus prayed, not in a distant, hands-off relationship but in an intimate, loving interaction that permeated his life and ministry. Learning to love someone means spending time in their presence, becoming familiar with their voice, gazing into their face. It means loving to stand in awe of what they have made, touching, tasting and relishing their love expressed through such creativity.
It also means learning to love what they love. To enter into a loving relationship with God means to desire what God loves — justice and mercy and compassion. It means that our hearts ache with the things that tear God’s heart apart — sin and disease and injustice. From the fullness of our experience of God’s love we are able to love others. The outpouring of God’s love into the lives of others is, I believe, one of the most profound expressions of prayer that there can be.
Let me leave you with this beautiful quote from Elaine Heath’s book, The Mystical Way of Evangelism, to meditate on.
When we come home to the love of God everything changes, beginning with how we pray. Prayer is now at its foundation a contemplative soaking in the infinite love of God. All our intercessions and thanksgivings and wordless cries now issue from the molten core of contemplative prayer. Prayer has become the vital breath, the heartbeat of divine energy without which we cannot live.
So what awakens you to the love of God? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Christine Sine is executive director of Mustard Seed Associates, a small organization founded by her and her husband, Tom Sine, to assist churches and Christian organizations to engage the challenges of the 21st century. She writes at God space, where this post originally appeared.
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