I remember when I first realized that I loved my girlfriend (now wife of 36 years). Do you remember when you first fell in love with the Lord? It kinda felt like this didn’t it?
It felt amazing. I was always so anxious to see her and thought about her all the time. I would often sit around thinking, ‘I wonder what she is doing? I wonder if she’s thinking about me? I wonder how she feels today.?’ And when I was with her I would have a flood of emotions. It was so easy to love her. I didn’t have to think about it or try to remember to. She was simply on my mind all the time.
As time went on and we were married, it wasn’t so automatic. In fact, my thoughts shifted and instead of thinking about her all the time my mind focused on me and my feelings. And the more I did the less I “thought” I loved her because the “feelings” faded. I didn’t realize that the feelings followed the thoughts instead of the other way around. So, for the next several ‘years’ I let my feelings dictate my thoughts which turned into destruction.
Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
James 1:15 NKJV
I found myself with another woman. Dazed and confused and drowning in guilt I would confess and leave because of what I had done and she didn’t deserve any of it. Shamefully this cycle happened multiple times. Have you ever been through this cycle with the Lord? Don’t we do the very same thing in our faith? Don’t we often let our emotions dictate our actions in our commitment to the Lord? Have you ever let your feelings determine your faith and it leads you away from Him and into the arms of sin lost and confused and full of guilt?
One night while we were separated and planning our divorce (2nd time), I was alone and wrestling with my guilt and feeling like a complete failure. My life was completely out of control and far from where I wanted to be. The short story is I fully repented and committed myself to Him in the most real way. I made the “decision” to love the Lord fully and follow Him and completely. And, I asked Him to teach me how to love her the way He does.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 NKJV
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
Ephesians 5:25 NKJV
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
I John 3:16 NKJV
As I dug through scripture I found that loving my wife had very little to do with emotion and everything to do with my decisions and my actions and my commitment. I began to put into practice what the Word had to say with regard to my wife and my marriage. Now, more than 3 decades later, I continue to work on me and my thoughts and my actions towards my marriage and my wife. I love her more and more deeply today than ever and as long as I will cultivate it and work at it, my love for her continues to grow. And, I find that my feelings now follow my thoughts.
My relationship with the Lord is a parallel of this. Do you relate? Were you infatuated with the Lord but later those feelings faded and so did your relationship with God? Did you drift into the arms of sin? How many times did you go through this cycle?
Listen, take captive your thoughts. Decide that you’re going to work at your relationship with the Lord and put in the time. Let your thoughts and actions determine how you feel instead of the other way around. Commit to cultivating your faith and putting in the time necessary to grow your relationship with Him.
Your salvation has nothing to do with works. Your faith in Him that He died on the cross took care of that. But, growing your relationship with Him beyond that of a child and his father does take work on your behalf because you are the only limitation. You are the only thing keeping you from a mature and healthy relationship with Him. Make the decision to grow in your faith and in your relationship with Him.