I was, sitting in court last week, looking at an attorney-consultant who looked for all the world like Brett Younger after he’s had a few frozen smoothies too many on a hot day. Seriously, if he was about 20 percent less fossilized, I would have thought he really was Brett! It was an interesting trial (I don’t know if we won or not as I write this), but in the in between moments, I had the time to think about an unrelated thing that I thought worth taking on. I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I thought I’d ask y’all straight up. When was the last time you told anyone that you love God?
That might sound like a dumb question, but is it really? A lot of us, especially the minister types, tend to take this for granted. “Of course I love God,” we’d say, “Why else would I be stupid enough to be a minister?” The problem is that, unless we hang out with certain crowds, we’re not all that comfortable talking about it, and when we do hang out with such crowds, we might just be saying it because that’s what everyone expects from us. Seriously now, how often do you talk about loving God? I mean really loving God, and not because you’re paid to?
I don’t think that I’ve done nearly enough of that. When I look back at my years in ministry, it seems like something that we’ve not talked about much. We all sort of assumed it, or we all said “our actions will show it.” Maybe our actions do show whether or not we love God, but don’t you think God would have appreciated hearing about it once in awhile? Couldn’t some other people have benefited from hearing it?
I kind of think so. What have I got to say in my defense? Not much.
When I was young and even more emotionally unstable than I am today, I used to write a lot of music. It was a good way to deal with the stresses of being a young adult who had trouble relating to other people. I could occasionally write a song about whether God heard my prayers or an endless string of dirges for girlfriends that didn’t work out, but songs about being happy and loving God or anyone else were really hard to come by. They still are. There are times when I really want to write some piece of poetry or song or something about God and how good she has been to me, but something always interrupts my chain of thought, and even though the good feelings don’t go away, the words eventually fail me. As someone who has ministered to so many people over such a long time, both in person and in print, you’d think that I tell people that I love God until they get tired of hearing it, but, in fact, I don’t remember saying it. So there’s the first defense: the words come hard. Every guy who ever tried to get the girl knows how that is, but we’ve already got God, so why is it so hard now? Wait a minute! There are a lot of us who also have got a spouse that we adore and cherish beyond everyone else in the world, and we have a hard time with them, too. Could it be that some feelings just happen to go beyond rational expression? Maybe we need
to practice a little irrational expression then.
And this brings up my second “defense.” I love God and all his works. I think about God constantly, and talk and otherwise consult with God frequently. I understand that God has placed all the people who are
special to me into my life for a reason, and I do my best to care for God by caring for those people around me. Unfortunately, I’m just not that good at it. That whole “sin” thing comes into play here, of course, but I guess I take it beyond that. For me, every day seems to end with a sense of “reckoning,” where God and I talk it out and go over things. Sometimes, I can look back at the day I had and feel that there were some good things that happened. Mostly, though, I think about missed opportunities, or things that I did that were just plain wrong. I often regret letting God down, as a husband, father, or person in general, and after many years of fretting about it, it finally dawned upon me that God wants to give me the same breaks that I would give other people in that regard. Knowing that God knows that I really suck at the whole “loving God” thing, but is okay with me anyway, is a really big thing. It’s not an excuse to do what I please, so much as a sort of safety net for those times when I inevitably screw things up. Getting back to what I was talking about, I think that not ever telling people that I really do love God is one of those little ways I screw up. I’ll work on that.
So how does one actually say such a thing without sounding like another smarmy “praise chorus” that you can buy on Cd at your local Wal-Mart? Somehow, using some of Eric Cartman’s tunes doesn’t seem to fit, either. I honestly got stumped trying to find a piece of music that is appropriate for this subject, which is why you do not have a new piece of music in the “files” section this time. In fact, I’m having a hard time finding a scripture, so the one I listed above is the same one that I remember singing way back when I was a member of the BSU choir in college. All that confessed to, I’ll take a crack at it. God is the center of everything I am or ever hope to be. She keeps me going and is in everything I see and do. The way she talks to me when I need support, finds things to motivate and educate me, fills my life with people who love me, and even smacks me upside the head when I need it is all light and life to me. She even uses her wicked sense of humor on me, gently shaping me, sometimes taunting me, and otherwise working with me in ways that won’t be apparent to me for along time, if ever. In short, while there is obviously no life without God, I wouldn’t even want to think of one if it were possible.
I’m sure I can go on, but all of us have our own dialog with God to advise us, and no two relationships are the same. That’s another part of the richness of an experience with God. Now if I can just find some way to find a comfort level with expressing this, I’ll be home free.
Have you hugged your God today?