Love. One word in English but it has more meanings than we know what to do with. We love our food, the weather, our friends and family, and even our shoes. But do we really stop and take time to think about what we are saying or feeling? This is what hit me in that Beth Moore Bible study one night. I know I love God. I have loved Him for as long as I can remember. But am I “in love” with Him? As I rolled this around in my mind a little, it began to unsettle me. Had I been missing the point this whole time? The God of the universe that I say that I love…do I even know the half of it?
The weekend following that study time we had a time away and as I sat on the wrap-around porch at our cousin’s house, under the oak trees and Spanish moss, holding my cup of tea, I began to look into the Word of God to learn a little more about what it means to be “in love.” Do you know that the very first reference I found was a reference between us and God?
“And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you
but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him,
to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
I can’t wait to show you this next part.
I love to dig into the meaning of the words. The Hebrew word used here for love is “ahav.” Look at what it means:
- To desire, to breathe after anything
- One who is loving and beloved, intimate; different than a companion
- To delight in anything; in doing anything
Don’t you love that!? Do you know what it means to breathe after something or someone?
To breathe after: to seek with eagerness to attain to; long or try to reach; attempt.
What if the next time I sat down with God I did it with the attitude of seeking with eagerness to attain to Him? What if I treated Him as my beloved and not simply a companion that is handy when I need Him. What if I truly delight in Him and long for what He wants to say to me? Well, I will tell you. I have started approaching God in this way and I cannot express to you the richness that comes from my time with Him. I feel like I have opened my eyes for the very first time. I am seeing myself through the eyes of Jesus and it calms me. His love is bringing creativity to life in my heart in new ways. I didn’t realize it was all a package deal until I went back and reminded myself of that day I learned that I was made to be in love with God. You see, there is more to that word…
There is a whole other aspect of that word “love” that I did not even tell you yet. Chaldee is an Aramaic language that was also used in the Old Testament. Do you know what the Chaldee root says about this word?
- to produce fruit, especially the first and early fruit; to produce flowers.
- putting forth, shooting forth
- Having the sense of desire, eager pursuit of an object
Can you see how it all comes together? As we look for intimacy with God the dry places of our soul will come alive! He will show you things you never saw before. Your relationship with Him will be in full color, like a field of wild flowers, instead of black and white. And the best part? The more you practice this, practice intimacy with Him, the more you will find yourself desiring it. You will find yourself in eager pursuit of a God who has loved you from the beginning of time and who has been waiting to show you just how deep His love for you goes.
There always seems to be something. A struggle that we cannot overcome. A fear that continues to paralyze us. A battle that we just cannot win. Like a game of tug-o-war, we often feel like we are winning and then – “Yank!” – we get pulled back in to a place of defeat.
For me that place was filled with anxiety and insecurity.
Oh, but I seemed to cover it up nicely with my fabricated illusion of control. The funny thing is that I never would have considered myself a person who struggled with anxiety, until that day I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office, convinced that I was having a heart attack or something because my entire left arm was tingling, and she says the words to me, “You are having a panic attack.” I looked at her like surely she was mistaken. I was thinking, “I don’t have anything to panic about!” And that is the moment my walls began to crumble.
You see, about two years prior I felt like I was at the top of my game. I was just about to turn 40, had completed a fitness challenge (fit before 40, right?), I was checking off my Bible Study to-do list every day and I had surrounded myself with people I wanted to be like. Are you sensing any red flags yet? I wasn’t. And it was then that the pain started. I don’t have enough space here to detail the following 3+ years here but the short of it is I now deal with chronic pain to varying degrees. Numerous MRIs, physical therapists, orthopedics and chiropractors led to inconclusive findings and no clear diagnosis. I am now just like millions of other Americans who struggle with low-back pain. So, why did I feel so alone?
I wrestled with this for months. Little by little the Lord drew me closer and closer, stripping away everything that I placed my security in. He gently showed me that I was not surrendered to the Him in the way I thought I was. Checking off my Bible Study tasks from a list does not equal intimacy with Jesus. Surrounding my self with people I wanted to be like does not equal becoming the person God created me to be. I was finding my identity in all the wrong places. So, when He began to show me how much I was trying to control things, it was a very empty feeling. It was there that I began to discover that what I had with God was not nearly deep enough. God wanted all of me, not just the parts I needed help with. I can’t do any of it. I can’t make my body whole. I can’t control what other people think of me. And I certainly can’t satisfy my own soul.
But it was through these years that God brought me to an understanding of something I never quite got before. I have said for as long as I can remember that I love Jesus. But as I was going through yet another Beth Moore study, God gave me a gem. The question, “Are you IN love with Me?” Do you hear it? Do you notice the subtle difference? I can’t wait to show you, in my next post, what He taught me about love when I started to listen.
So, am I surrendered? Yes. Do I always live like I am surrendered? No. It is a constant battle, but each day I remind myself WHO is in control, I sit quietly in His presence – even if I only have 5 minutes, and I surrender my heart to Him, falling more in love with Him everyday. The more you practice the art of surrender the more you will realize where (and with Whom) the victory lies.
Side note: The graphic above was created 100% by me, by hand. 🙂 I am pretty sure this is my first watercolor/hand-lettering combo EVER and probably my first time with watercolor since elementary school. 🙂 I am finding that mixing creativity with worship is such a sweet way to connect with Jesus. Soon, we will be creatively worshipping the Lord together in whatever way He has gifted you. And I will continue to share mine with you, as well.
Had I actually believed that when God first told me, I think I might have saved myself a world of heartache and disappointment. But how many of us actually believe that God can use us in an amazing way? It was seven or eight years ago that I was doing a Beth Moore Bible study on Esther (which is AWESOME, by the way!) that I first heard that still, small voice in my heart saying, “You can do this. Write for me. You will learn about me in a much deeper way as you teach.” At first, this calling excited me. YES! I want to influence women the way Beth Moore has influenced me. I love digging into the Bible and discovering a new layer of God every single time. That is how it is when I go through one of her studies. Deeper…deeper…deeper. Sounds great, right?
So, why is it I am now starting this blog eight years later? Well, I’m pretty sure I cannot sum it up for you in one post. My hope is that this blog is going to be continual posts about my journey. Why did I doubt? How did I think I was supposed to do it? What was I going to write about? Notice all the “I’s”? God had a lot of work to do before I was in a surrendered state of mind. Where I have been, what I am doing, and where God will take me from here is the story I am inviting you to. You see, I didn’t believe I could do it. Oh, I knew I could sit down and LEARN to do it, but actually just start writing? No, it was not that easy. I had to learn the formula, the technique, the style, right? I should tell you right now I am a very “inside the box” kind of girl, and I’m here to tell you I had it wrong.
All I had to do was start. God called me to this. I am His tool. He is saying something and He wants me to be a part of it. At first I thought maybe it was a Bible Study He wants me to write, or maybe a book. I recently discovered Bible Journaling and I CAN’T WAIT to tell you about that! Honestly, who knows? But I do know this. He wants me to share my story with you. He wants you to see facets of His heart that maybe you haven’t seen before. He wants you, every part of you. Not just the pieces you are willing to give him or the pieces that you think are good enough. He wants ALL of you. When you surrender and give Him ALL of you, the results are astounding, your purpose is realized, and His desires become your desires. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. ~ Psalm 37:4
Welcome to my next chapter…My surrender…My art…My influence. I can’t wait to show you all the creative ways that we can learn about God and, I promise, every day we will be just that much more deeply in love with Him.