Guest essay by Susie Hobson
ARE you Ready? Are you ready to love God with all your heart and to surrender your life and all you have to Him? If Jesus called you right now to, “Come, follow me!” what would you do? Would you go as the disciples did, immediately? Could you say, “Yes, Lord,” with all your heart?
Several years ago I found myself being drawn back again and again to the “greatest commandment,” Matthew 22:37: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The question to me was, did I love God like that? That was a hard question. I loved God, sure, of course, I loved God – but did I love Him more than anything else or anyone else? Did I have a better relationship with God than with my husband, children, closest friends, and family? Could I honestly say that I was keeping the greatest commandment?
Unfortunately, no, I did not love God that much. How could I love an unseen Creator with everything I had in me? How could I love someone I cannot even touch or hug? Yet I knew that I had not really tried to love God. I had not taken the same kind of time to get to know Him that I had with my family and friends. How much time was I spending with God each day? How much conversation was taking place between us? How much time was I spending in His Word? Not enough to demonstrate that I loved Him with all my heart.
I knew that if I wanted to love someone with all my heart, I would be talking about a major time obligation. It would include daily interaction, reports of all kinds of events in my life, large and small, and hearing about the same in his/her life. It would also entail being available for support, help, and conversation. Finally, I would be thinking about a lifetime commitment. This is what God does for us, and how He yearns for us to relate to Him!
In the past few years I have gone from having an acquaintance with Him to having a great relationship. I talk to Him all the time (and it is not always serious stuff!) and I read His Word, which is His conversation to me. I pray and He actually answers many of the specific things I ask Him (not a Christmas wish list), and on top of that I can actually feel His presence, which is like the best hug possible. Is God lovable? Yes. Can I have a real one-on-one relationship with Him? Yes.
As I began spending time with God, I found out very quickly that what makes Him happy is Jesus. In Matthew 3:17b God said loud and clear, “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.” God showered His love on us through Jesus: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Our belief and love for Jesus as our Savior is the only way to have that “love God with all your heart” relationship. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Before we can love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength we first have to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior (see below, “How I Can Accept Jesus as My Lord and Savior”). We have to love Jesus.
Jesus changed everything – forever, and Jesus is still changing humans. I think this is a worthwhile question for today’s church-goer: “Is Jesus changing everything about you?” Are we hitting or missing what God intended for us? What did God intend for us? I believe from the Holy Scriptures that God intended for us to have a great relationship with Him on a daily basis, with much interaction, prayer, and expectation of response from our Creator. Some of you may be thinking, “Response? What do you mean by response?” We do not have a God and Savior who is distant and unknown. We have a real God who does what the Bible says He can do. We have His Son who said He will dwell in us and continue His earthly ministry through us by way of the Holy Spirit.
We are talking about a relationship that is real, active, and powerful with the Creator of the universe!
In Matthew 22:35-38 we see the following conversation taking place:
One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment.
Over the past few years I have been talking with people about keeping the greatest commandment and people keep telling me the same thing: “I want to keep the greatest commandment, but I’m not able to at this time.” I have heard this from pillars of the community, leaders at church, homemakers, and struggling people, both married and single. The reasons given for not loving God completely with all our heart are varied. The most common one is, “I don’t think I could love anyone more than I love my husband or wife or child.”
The next most popular response is, “I just don’t have time to have that kind of relationship with God right now; I’m going to later …” (when my children are grown, when I retire, when I’m not so busy). One common statement, however, is that most people do want more spiritually. What they are really saying (whether they know it or not) is that they want a real relationship with God. Not just church talk, but the real thing – a relationship that changes their whole life. That is a powerful relationship.
I have found that many people, despite years of church attendance and belief in God, do not have that kind of a relationship with God. Some feel that it is just not realistic. God is way off in Heaven and we are way down here, so we settle for a kind of “wave-at-your-neighbor-down-the-street” type of relationship.
The Bible says God is here, now, today, ready and waiting to have that great relationship with us. We read in Psalm 62:8: “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” Yes! Pour out your hearts to Him. People are just dying to pour out their hearts to someone they can trust. God would not ask us to pour out our hearts to Him if He had no intention of listening and responding.
How does God respond? In many different ways. If we seek to have a real relationship with God the Bible says that we will find Him (Acts 17:27). However, to seek God does require effort! The more time we spend with God (talking to Him in prayer, reading His Word), the better we are going to get to know Him and see and hear His responses.
I think many modern day churches have “de-powered” God by failing to encourage us to have that great personal relationship with God – the kind where there is an expectation of response from God. A relationship with God is a two way relationship. We can expect a response!
Let me share the Bible’s perspective on what virtually every person since the beginning of creation craves or desires above everything else. What is it? Proverbs 19:22 states, “What a man desires is unfailing love.” We all want unfailing love. It is our heart’s desire. Would you agree that deep down within you there is a hunger and a thirst for “something” that no one person has ever been able to truly fill? You are not alone!
People are constantly saying that they want “more.” I believe that we and they are talking about unfailing love. Proverbs 20:6 states, “Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” In other words, only God has that unfailing love we all desire. We can seek it in others but the truth is that we will only find that number one, permanent relationship with God. Look at the divorce rate. People seem to be looking for a love they cannot find in others. Only God can respond to us with unfailing love. This is a simple, yet profound fact.
So are you ready? Are you one of those who want more? We do not have a secretive God who left clues only for those of us who are clever enough to figure them out for themselves. We have a God and Savior who said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20, KJV). You just have to want Him enough to seek Him.
When you find that real relationship with God, you will know why the disciples dropped everything and immediately followed Jesus. It was the best thing that had ever happened to them, and it will be the best thing that ever happens to you!
We excerpt this essay from Susie Hobson’s excellent Nordskog Publishing title Loving God with All Your Heart.
Susie Hobson has a B.A. in Special Education and a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Alabama, worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor. She retired five years ago to be a homemaker, spend more time with her family, and to write. She and her husband, Rich, have been married for over twenty-seven years, and live in Montgomery, Alabama. They have two daughters, Whitney and Amelia. Whitney is author of Nordskog Publishing’s title John Brown of Priesthill.