“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
She will never let me live it down. I’ve been married to a beautiful, loving, Spirit-filled bride for 18 years, and we have celebrated 21 years of being in a relationship together. I feel as though we can now be commissioned as “veterans” in the relationship field. The fact that when we attend weddings these days, we last pretty long in the couple’s dance has to count for something, right? The first time I laid eyes on her is a moment that neither one of us will ever forget. She was a freshman in college, recruited to play point guard for the college team that I was a student aid for. As I walked by the coach’s office to see if I could reconnect prior to the season, there she was, sitting at a desk, blue eyes and a smile that literally melts all of my self-proclaimed “machismo” completely away. So, what do I do? Coach wasn’t in the office and I don’t really know this fine-looking new girl at all. I did what any guy would do: act cool and keep walking past the door. I know, right? I remember stopping at the other side of the office entrance and thinking, “I need to take another look!” So, with all the smoothness I could muster within me I literally moon walked (Michael Jackson style) backwards, to the doorway and took a double take at this angel who would eventually be my future bride and mother of my children. Yeah, I did that. Pretty smooth, huh?
Over the years we have noticed that some things have changed with us, in a good way. Our love has recreated itself as the Lord has formed our hearts to reflect His will for each of our lives both individually and as a couple. We both testify to the changing in our appearances, physically and spiritually—although it’s easy for anyone to see that I was definitely the one that married up. Children and circumstances have changed our priorities, yet I can testify to these two main truths in our marriage.
- Relationships flourish when Jesus is the Lord of the house.
- When both individuals sacrifice and serve the other, the image of the Holy Trinity comes into clearer focus.
I can testify that I fall in love with Heather over and over again, season after season, and I pray that this truth continues for the rest of our lives together.
I also pray that the same is true in my relationship with the Father in heaven and Jesus Christ as Lord of my life. We are actually called to fall in love, again. The Shema is a passage that is very near and dear to my heart (quoted above). Not only is it the passage of Scripture given to the Jews to recite daily in their homes, over their own lives, and families, but it was the first passage I was responsible for memorizing in my seminary journey. It is also the cry of my heart for my relationship with God, and the process of devotion we are all called to live into as believers. The principles we observe in the reading of verses 4-9 are actually a process by which we can experience God’s love, and the areas of our lives by which we can remember and participate in this divine love story with him.
Really love God
We are invited to meet the love of the Father, our creator and friend, with all of who we are—heart, soul, and strength. That’s quite an invitation. All of me in exchange for all of who God is. It’s not an even exchange, it’s a holy exchange. In fact, as we give all of us, God loves us so much that he reshapes and molds all that we give him to match His likeness.
Apply His Word in my heart
Jesus testified to the importance of hiding the Word of God in the heart. In fact, the word of the Father was the source of everything Jesus said, did, and accomplished. If Jesus is our living example of what devotion in this covenant is to look like, then time spent with God in His word is essential to a healthy relationship. When His word is in me, then access in times of struggle are not legalistic, but profoundly intimate.
Make an impression
As I grow in age and hopefully some maturity, my heart’s desire is to leave an eternal legacy and inheritance with my children and spiritual children. Just as a will is laid out with intention and in a process, so is a spiritual inheritance. Relationships matter. Relationships matter to God and the ones that matter most to us have the majority of our attention. My responsibility is to communicate not only my own love over them, but the Father’s heart for them. Where there is no communication there will be several break downs. The stakes are too high to allow a break down in the next generation due to my lack of follow through from the current one.
Create reminders & revisit monuments
I love how the instruction is to “tie them as symbols on your hands” in verse 8. Sounds a lot like a divine wedding ring of sorts. Rings are an outward sign of covenant, round in their form to resemble eternity. The long and short of a ring is that it is a symbolic reminder to myself and others that “I am taken.” My heart belongs to another.
The marking of the doorposts serves as a monument of God’s faithfulness to His covenant over each of us. Mercy comes in covenant and the blood over the doorpost of our home serves as a marker of authority and protection for those within the walls of this home.
I wonder how many of us need to take another look at Jesus in this season of our lives. Just as I couldn’t resist a second look at the love of my life, I know it would take some vulnerability to look again. I would have to put myself out there.
This week I invite you to fall in love, again and again, with the one who literally put himself out there for you. His name is Jesus, He has already fallen and risen for you, and as you allow His Spirit to work on and in you, your love for one another will recreate itself in each season. ♦