Falling in Love with God
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.
Although I don’t recall the exact day (I wish I did), it was a beautiful spring day in March, 2012 when I fell in love with God. The details aren’t important. However, it was a time in my life I had failed in my profession and felt like a total loser. I had let my wife and children down.
How does one, out of the blue it seems, fall in love with God? Let me begin by first reviewing the Greatest Commandment. In Mark 12:30 our Lord commands, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (my emphasis) I went for years not knowing what He really meant, primarily how I should feel. I’ve found it takes all three, heart, soul and mind, to make my love a reality. The strength part makes sure I love Him every single moment of my life… perseverance.
Again, how did it happen? It’s no secret; prayer, meaningful, from the bottom of my heart, prayer. I prayed for many years for faith, but found that loving God comes first… just as St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13.:13, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” Once I truly loved God, faith and hope followed right behind. You see, just as one either lovers or not loves (there is no in-between) so goes faith and hope. A popular term these days seems to be binary, so I’ll bite. All three virtues, faith, hope and love are binary. They are either on or off, yes or no, true or false. If I were to ever have any doubt with faith, then I don’t have faith. Does that make sense? It had better because that’s exactly the way it is with God.
It was an Epiphany, a warmth that I cannot describe. From that very moment on, I have never lost my faith in Jesus Christ because it was then where I knew He had always taken care of my family and me. He provided when I didn’t realize He was filling needs; not wants. When I could have easily veered to the wide road, He consistently steered me to the narrow path.
9 months later, just a few days before Christmas (again, 2012), I received a message from Him. The man who delivered the message, someone I’d never met and have, to my knowledge never seen since, told me that Jesus told him to tell me, “Everything is going to be alright.” And he, the messenger, was gone. I didn’t know what the message, specifically, meant except that it wasn’t a surprise. I already knew Jesus would make everything alright just as He always had. It’s been 11 years since those wonderful, miraculous days and I’m just as in love with our Lord as I was then.
What I then needed to do was to discover if there was a way to take my love for Jesus to a higher level. I needed to define it so I could inform others. I felt Kempis might have an answer.
Blessed is he who appreciates what it is to love Jesus and who despises himself for the sake of Jesus. Give up all other love for His, since He wishes to be loved alone above all things. He who clings to a creature will fall with its frailty, but he who gives himself to Jesus will ever be strengthened. Love Him, then; keep Him as a friend. He will not leave you as others do, or let you suffer lasting death. Cling, therefore, to Jesus in life and death; trust yourself to the glory of Him who alone can help you when all others fail.
I know my love for God is real. When I look to Church leadership for concurrence, and I see comments like the following, I wonder if they love God the way we are meant to. From Catholic New Agency, July 10, 2023.
"World Youth Day is an invitation to all the young people of the world to experience God," Bishop Américo Aguiar told ACI Digital, clarifying comments he made in a July 6 interview.
The auxiliary bishop of Lisbon and new president of the WYD Lisbon 2023 Foundation, who Pope Francis recently recently named a cardinal, told ACI Digital that his comments were made in the context of a longer interview in which he was quoted as saying, “We don’t want to convert the young people to Christ or to the Catholic Church or anything like that at all.” (my emphasis)
Statements like the Bishop’s are akin to people telling me how much they love Jesus but are in favor of sin… liken to that of being pro-abortion. My challenge to those folks is, “If you love Jesus with all your heart, mind and soul, why do you allow destruction of God’s creation?” The new Cardinal states he doesn’t want to convert to Christ or to Christ’s Church? That certainly isn’t a demonstration of charity… love toward Christ or Christ’s Church. If he loved God the way I do, one would deem he would want all on earth to love God as he would. But I don’t see that in his statement.
If not love, how would I define it? I suspect his love of the material things (wanting to be popular, liked, accepted) represents a term coined by the Venerable Fulton Sheen in a 1947 sermon, “Ape of the Church.” Although Bishop Sheen’s reference was directed toward the anti-christ, it is apparent this new Cardinal is not in consonance with our Lord’s teachings. It’s a false gospel.
If you but knew how to free yourself entirely from all creatures, Jesus would gladly dwell within you. You will find, apart from Him, that nearly all the trust you place in men is a total loss. If, however, you seek Jesus in all things, you will surely find Him. For the man who does not seek Jesus does himself much greater harm than the whole world and all his enemies could ever do. (my emphasis)
Love of God is pure and immaculate. It is not sullied by sharing the love of Jesus with earthly creatures and material things, as Kempis explained. Referring back to the person who says they love God but yet condone abortion, the love they think they have is corrupt. The earthly love is soiled by the brain, the intellect, and is not of the heart and soul. What they think is love, in cases like this, is not compassion but simply a feel good.
The love God gives us is sanctifying grace. That is the only way to salvation. There is nothing more we need. We, therefore, must return His love by putting Him first, above all earthly things. Once we do that, we become brothers and sisters in Christ… true Christian friends with Jesus.
God Bless you