Have you ever loved anything so hard, so intensely that it seemed to consume you?

Moms I’m sure you probably have. You loved that little baby growing inside you before you ever got to hold it. You ate healthy, or at least tried to. You read every book about child birth that you could get your hands on. Perhaps you even took child birth classes. When the bundle of joy arrived you couldn’t contain the joy that filled you.

How about you sports enthusiasts? You exercise and play with all that’s in you. You love your game so much that you train and prepare tirelessly for your event, giving every thought to what your body and mind needs in order to perform your best. You stay focused on your goal.

A mom recently shared the story of how her son had given his all in several soccer tournaments over the weekend. His knee and calf was injured in the final game. The next day he was scheduled to play in try-outs for a college team. His mom knew how badly he wanted to play in the try outs, and how badly his body needed rest from the weekend games. She offered these words of encouragement, “Your body is tired and battered and may let you down today. You’ll have to play with your heart today.” His reply to her was, “Mom, that’s deep.”  Because of his love for soccer, he refused to be sidelined by the injury, he pushed through the pain and played with all his heart.

Love with all you have

The Bible tells us in several passages that we should love God and our neighbors with that same intensity.

Deuteronomy 4:29 …”But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Deuteronomy 6:5 … “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 

Luke 10:27-28 …”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:37…“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.…”

Mark 12:30-31… ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

It must be really important! But, how does one do it. It’s not easy.

It starts with the heart

We think of our heart as the seat of our emotions. But in the Bible our heart is more; it’s our mind, will and conscience. It’s the source of our feelings, thoughts and intentions. It’s where our sense of guilt comes from when we’ve done something wrong.

We were created with a heart so that we would love God wholly. However, I must admit, sometimes He is not my only, nor my first love. I let the things of the world tug at my heart, taking focus away from Him. If you’re honest with yourself, you probably do too. So how can we obey the Lord’s command to “love the Lord your God from your whole heart”?  Because he first loved us. 1st John 4:19

Exercise your heart

We are told to exercise to keep our hearts physically healthy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always wake up in the morning wanting to jump out of bed to exercise. (I know you sports enthusiasts do. Kudos to you. I admire your dedication to physical fitness. I used to play co-ed softball in my 20’s and 30’s. I would run five miles every evening after dinner during softball season. I get tired just thinking about running now.)

Just like exercising physically, I know I should be exercising my spiritual heart too to keep it healthy.  I don’t always wake up in the morning with a loving heart toward the Lord. But I can start the day by turning my heart to Jesus. I can say, “Lord Jesus, I turn my heart to You this morning. I love You!” I can practice this daily. Not so hard to do. Doesn’t take much effort at all. I can even do it before my feet hit the floor. I can pray, “Lord Jesus, cause me to love You more today than I did yesterday.” As I pray back to the Lord His own desire for me to love Him absolutely, He will have the way to work Himself into me so that I love Him with my whole being.

How about you? Ready to start a new exercise regime with me?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for putting other things before you. Sometimes it is because of the allure of worldly pleasures, sometimes out of laziness, sometimes out of weariness. Father thank you for first loving me and filling my heart with your love. Help me and others to hear when your grace whispers, “Your body is tired and battered and may let you down today. You’ll have to play with your heart today.” In Jesus name I pray. Amen


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