“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”
―G. K. Chesterton
I’m blessed to live in a house on a wooded lot in a small neighborhood. When I have the chance, I sit on our back deck among pots of brightly colored flowers and let my senses wake up. I hear chattering, chirruping birds of all kinds, as well as buzzing insects. I feel the light dance of the breeze; smell the grass’s pungency. Recently, I’ve watched the spectacle of three hummingbirds zip in and out to drink from our slender, tube-shaped flowers. And I remember: The God who created rigid stone and jagged bark also designed whimsical, living helicopters and delicate petals.
This remembering is necessary because, in a time of stretching and testing, I can begin to become closed to God’s presence. Being with Him in nature helps my heart soften. I remember that He loves me, and I love Him. This is, above everything, a relationship of holy love. God wants to be with me, even in my darkest moments. Writer/speaker Connally Gilliam expresses it this way: “Even the holes in our souls can be portals to the goodness of his heart.”*
It means, too, that I’m susceptible to the underbelly of trials—the temptation to resist or distrust God. James wrote this encouraging beatitude about trials: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life…” (James 1:12 ESV). Those who endure will be rewarded. Does that motivate you? I admit that, depending on the day, I can think, “Nope. I’ll just pass on that reward, thanks.” But this isn’t just about me; it’s about God. God rewards those who love Him.
The man who patiently endures the temptations and trials that come to him is the truly happy man. For once his testing is complete he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to all who love him.
–James 1:12 PHILLIPS
Why would I choose to endure under trial? Because it’s a way to express that I cherish God. I’ve proven Him and know Him and would never want to live without Him. (See Colossians 3:3-4.)
ACTION: Is your relationship with God more of a theory or a love affair? Do you know why that is? What helps you remember the loving heart of God? (For me, it’s being in nature.) What “hole in your soul” is testing your spiritual endurance? How could you express to God that you cherish Him? If you don’t have that desire, how could you stir up or cultivate that obedient affection?
*And Yet, Undaunted: Embraced by the Goodness of God in the Chaos of Life, Paula Rinehart and Connally Gilliam, p. 87