How can I love Jesus more than I already do? If I can love him more, does that mean that I don’t love Him enough? That I don’t really love Him as much as I think I do? That I love Him the wrong way? How can I “love thee more dearly…day by day”
I want to explore the second prayer in the folk rock song “Day by Day” from the musical “Godspell” (see yesterday’s post). When I write about pursuing prayer, this is a major focus of the pursuit– to develop my love for Jesus. But there’s more to it than just spending more time, or even “better” time in prayer.
I love my husband, and that love grows over the years– not because we are in an eternal “honeymoon” period, where life is rosy and all I know about him is the wonderful image I’ve built up–but because in living with him, working with him, even struggling with him, I learn to value who he really is. I learn about qualities I never knew he had. I learn to trust him and respect his judgment; I learn about the deepest part of his heart that he only shares with those closest to him. And even though I learn about his faults, I see him desiring to be the best that he can be. In his turn, my husband does the same with me– learning my strengths and weaknesses. Together we learn how to work together to strengthen and support each other. We even learn how to argue better!
But we all know marriages (and no marriage is immune) where doubt, distrust, disdain, and despair creep in. The very qualities that attracted us in the beginning become sore spots that tear us apart. The joy is swallowed up in little hurts that go unresolved; little misunderstandings that grow into lengthy silences and slammed doors. Struggles that should bring us together cause us to run to separate corners. Our feelings change, our hopes are dashed, and our relationship crumbles
Relationships require trust–if I say that I love God, but I don’t trust Him, I’m not being honest with myself. If I pray to Him, but I don’t really think He’s listening; if I read His word, but make excuses for my continued disobedience–I don’t really love Him. I may idolize Him, even worship Him. But I don’t really love Him.
Unlike a marriage partner, family member, or close friend, God’s love for us never changes. We never have to pray that Jesus should love US more dearly. It’s impossible. The same love that spoke the universe into being and designed you to be the awesome and unique person you are, is the same love that stretched out his arms so they could be nailed to the cross– the same love that calls out to you no matter what you’ve done or who you are and offers you peace, joy, and rest. Loving Jesus isn’t a matter of measuring how I feel about Him from day to day, but spending each day learning to know Him better for who He is and not just what He has done or what He can do for me. The prayer should be for me to really learn better how to honor Him, how to trust Him, how to obey Him, praise Him, listen to Him, and walk close to him.
More about this last one Monday…