“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. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-39 NIV
Recently, I was watching a game show featuring newlyweds as contestants. The host commented on how loving many of the couples were to one another. One of the couples dated for many years prior to marriage and was showing a great deal of affection for one another. The host was particularly impressed with this couple and asked if they had always been as affectionate and considerate to one another as they were this day. They replied they had, and were committed to always doing so. The host laughed and jokingly said; “Coming from someone married for a very long time, I can assure you it doesn’t last.” The audience laughed and the show continued.
I was saddened by the comment and my thoughts immediately went to my own marriage and the times my husband and I have discussed this same topic. While taking long walks hand in hand, we’ve noticed much older couples also walking hand in hand, sharing sweet moments of leisure together. We are inspired by their long-lived devotion to one another and have said many times, “That too will be us when we are older.” Walking hand in hand, our grip tightens; without words we are reaffirming our desire and commitment to be one of those much older couples one day inspiring a young couple to stay connected and not let complacency creep into their marriage.
As I prayed this morning for the Lord to help my husband and I keep this commitment, He reminded me of my commitment to Him many years ago: a commitment to keep holding hands even as the years go by, a commitment to not let complacency creep into our relationship.
I remember reading a book as a young Christian about God holding our hands through life. It’s a picture I so often have in my mind: a picture of God holding my hand, walking me through some of life’s most beautiful and most challenging times. At times my grip is loose and carefree, while other times my grip is so tight I can almost feel God’s hand in mine.
At Canyon Ridge Christian Church, the church where I learned how to truly hold God’s hand, there is a sign that reads: “Love God, Love People.” It’s a shortened version of our scripture for today. “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. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I’ve learned over the years that this is not merely a suggestion, but a command. It is something we are to be intentional about. We are to love God and love the people placed in our path regardless of time, circumstances, or distance.
I think of other relationships and how often we so easily let them slowly slip away, especially if distance separates us. Why is it that too often, we have an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality? Can we really only focus on those who are close at hand? Is our love of friends and family only strong if they are within an arms reach? Sadly, this seems to be the case. The same can be said of our relationship with God. If we need Him, we reach for His hand; if all is well, we let go until the next crisis.
Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for us and asked only that we love Him and those He gives us to love. Today, I ask you to honor that sacrifice and commit with me, to love God and those He has placed in your life with much less complacency; to love God, your spouse, friends, and family just as intentionally as you did when you first met and felt love for them. Remember, God is only as close as your own hand, just waiting for you to reach out and walk with Him.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for reminding me of my own complacency when it comes to loving You and those You have given me to love and be loved by. Please help me to always be mindful of the command to love You and others as You have loved us. Thank You for always holding my hand. Please don’t ever let go. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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In His embrace,