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  • © Holly Craw and Home-School-Community, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Craw and Home-School-Community with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Love with all your heart, soul, mind and strength

ImageLove with all your heart, soul, mind and strength

You are loved with an everlasting love
–greater than the volume of the entire universe
–immense, vast, all-encompassing
–and yet, so personal

That love is not an intangible,
but the very person of God Almighty,
The God who is the very embodiment of Love itself;
The God who created everything out of His very essence, by His spoken Word.

This Love is beyond time, with no beginning and no end.
Thus, nothing and no one can ever be out of reach of that Love;
Nothing can ever diminish it or destroy it,
And God experiences all of you in the pulsating Now.

We were made in His image—His image of Love–
–shattered at the fall—leaving mankind with a broken being
that has to learn to love from those who know the true Love,
and depend on His power to redeem and heal.

Our tiny brains can’t comprehend the way of Love
that has no bounds—we distort love into rules, wanting the best for self
and seeking ways to trample others down.
We deaden our hearts and shut out God.

God gives His definition of the practical rules of Love—
How our lives demonstrate the reality of His character
by the way we honor Him
and how we treat our neighbors.

The mark of the fall goes deep, and the rules prove that we cannot overcome
without a miracle that changes the heart.
Jesus, the seed of Love, lives as a man,  ever challenging
the man-made rules and pushing beyond to the reality of Love.

“What is the greatest commandment?” He is asked.
“Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and
love your neighbor as yourself”, is the reply.

The mind reels with the enormity of this task,
and begins to make more rules to prove the depth of love.
Masks and charades draw the focus to the external life,
but the heart is still cold and far from God.

In words of parable and paradox, Jesus gives the answer.
“Even as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Abide in my love, and the world will know
That you are my disciples, beloved ones.”

How much has the Father loved His Son?
Can we begin to count the eternity of love dances
between them, of which we hear only whispers?
Dare we imagine the glory of Love reunited in fullness?

Could it be that God poured out all of His love, His entire being, into Jesus?
That He loved His Son fully, completely, extravagantly
With the totality of His whole being, infusing Himself
Into the perfection of Christ’s heart, soul, mind and strength?

Jesus, born of God and One with God, is also Love.
Never acting apart from what He sees and hears from the Father,
His life is a panorama of love in action.
This is His troth to us as His chosen ones.

Consider the outrageous prodigality of Love so wild and free.
The very love that created the universe is poured into us, joined with us, living in us.
We look into His face and mirror back to Him His abundant Love
that streams from our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Being so effulgently loved, the overflow extends naturally to others.
Does the theme of heart, mind, soul and strength include them?
What is it like to love others and give honor to them as I want to be honored
for my thoughts, feelings, desires, dreams, heartaches and physical personhood?

Perhaps honor is the key to Love—granting dignity and care without disdain or contempt;
allowing the grace and forgiveness that I don’t deserve, but given freely,
to be the means to touch another’s heart  so we might journey together
back to restoration of glory in Christ.

I can only carry out the greatest commands to the extent I have been immersed
in the Love of God that cost Him everything and submit to the freedom of doing the same.
Only then do I learn to be whole and live in honor, love and respect for my neighbor,
my spouse, my children and myself.

The circle is complete.  God pours His love out in me so that I can respond to His love.  This heals my heart so I can love others.  As I share the gift of love, the capacity of my heart grows, unlocking greater access to the fullness of God, which spirals out to those around me.  Through honor and care for others, God is honored and I increasingly experience the reality of loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

Holly Craw
December 2013