What it means to Love the Lord

lovethelordYesterday seemed to be an incredibly long day. Obviously it was no longer than any other day in terms of minutes and hours. But with a guest in our home and a team of guys working on building a training center in the area beneath our back patio, it means we had very little time to ourselves. So when the final car pulled out of the gate, I collapsed on the couch, closed my eyes briefly, and questioned everything. “What am I doing?” “Why on earth am I causing more work for myself?” “Where is God in all of this?” “Have I made a mistake?” “What is wrong with me?”

Questions like that at the end of the day are best left unanswered. They are the result of fatigue and a faith that questions if God will fulfill His promise to never leave or forsake me. In the morning, those questions fade with the mist and the work begins again. The excitement and faith return. His mercies are new.

So when I poured my coffee and looked at His Word, I found myself meditating on a single phrase that I hope to be preaching on in a few weeks: “love the Lord.”

A simple, impossible command.

How do I — a sinner! — choose Him for an intimate relationship, and commit to obey His commands? How do I — a sinner! — incline my heart to the One who inclined Himself to me? How do I — a sinner! — follow Him in faith, forsaking the path that my wayward heart would take me on?

Jesus said it was the Greatest Commandment. Yet daily I’m certain of my failure to obey it. But perhaps that’s the entire point. In my failure I become more dependent on Him. And once I rest in that dependence, all I can “do” is whatever God puts in front of me. If He calls me to give my home to helping others, then that’s what I’ll do. And I’ll do it as imperfectly as I do everything else. I’ll do it needing His grace every step of the way.

I know I’ll never in this life love Him like He loves me. But I’m going to keep trying, and failing, and trying again.

Because He first loved me.

 

The Brook Training Center

Yesterday we started construction on The Brook Training Center, a multi-use facility at our property in Atenas, Costa Rica. With this new resource, we will be able to offer a variety of conferences, classes and studies to pastors from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, as well as to the local community.

Check out today’s video update…(and then click here to donate)!

All growth is incremental. And that’s good.

1204352061Yesterday I ran a half-marathon by accident. I say accident because I didn’t set out to. I fully expected to run 8 miles, and hoped to stretch myself to 10. But I had no thought of doing another 13.1. My run times lately have felt a little sluggish, and I’ve opted for 4 or 6 miles more times that I should have.

But there was one thing I hadn’t counted on. My strength and stamina have been growing, slowly and almost imperceptibly. So when I breezed past 8 and felt strong at 10, I shrugged and just kept running. And in the process I set a new personal best for a half-marathon, shaving off three minutes from my previous time. It felt good to accomplish the run. It felt even better to realize I was growing as a runner.

All growth is incremental. And that’s good.
I remember in the late ’80s a Tom Hanks movie came out called Big. In it a boy wishes to become an adult, and he does–overnight. Hilarity ensues.

Of course that’s not possible. Aside from the physical limitations, we as humans don’t grow up emotionally or spiritually over night. In fact, it’s debatable whether some grow up at all. But surely we are growing. Little by little, inch by inch.

And this is good, because when we fully accept the fact that we are in a process of growth, we understand that mistakes and failures are to be expected. We aren’t what we were a year ago, and neither are we what we will become a year from now. We are growing–all of us. We are learning. We are maturing.

Sometimes growth causes pain. I remember as a teenager struggling to play soccer in high school. My feet were always killing me. The bones had not all settled into their assigned places and it caused pain. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t perform like the other guys. Likewise, I find myself struggling today with spiritual battles I couldn’t imagine a few years ago. Maybe I’m just more aware, or perhaps God wants me to grow in new areas. I hope a year from now these new “spiritual muscles” will be stronger and I will run further and faster than seems possible today.

But for now I’m going to embrace the pain. Every mile I’ve pushed through has made me stronger physically. So no longer will I dread what is making me better. I’ll try to remember that growing pains mean that I’m growing.