Perhaps the most important spiritual discovery you will ever make in your lifetime is when you learn to keep in touch with what St. John of the Cross calls the living flame of love.
Love is so difficult to define. We think we have discovered it in the way ourgrandmother treats us, then we get our first puppy. Soon there comes the firstboyfriend or girlfriend and now we truly believe that this is what it means tobe loved. After several foul attempts to find love in a relationship, we marryand find out love is hard work.
God is love and God loves you. He loves you completely. His love is the loveyou have been searching for all your life. Once you have deeply tasted of Hislove, you begin to recognize others who know what it is to be loved. I remembermeeting Sara in Peru. We only had one thirty minute conversation with an interpreterwhere she asked me an important question about her relationship with God. Therest of our time together over the two day retreat was spent in little conversationwith words. She helped me with set up and clean up. We nodded and smiled andmotioned our needs to each other. I got the sense that Sara was a believer whoknew how deeply loved she was. I recognized the contentment in her soul. I laterasked about where she lived and discovered that she dwelled in the shanty townsI had visited earlier in the trip. But she was so different from the other womenin her neighborhood. It was striking to notice that the women at our retreatsfrom the poorest communities seemed distant to their American visitors. Theylooked away from us and made few attempts to communicate in our broken Spanishas other women. What made Sara more confident was not that she had any more belongingsor spoke any better Spanish than the other women. What made Sara different wasthat she had been able to grasp on a deeper level that she was one dearly lovedby God.
When you know you are loved by God, it solves so many spiritual dilemmas. Forinstance, it helps you forgive yourself. It keeps you from searching for lovefrom the world. It makes you want to read God’s Word and pray to Him. Itcauses you to demand less from your relationships.
Jesus spells it out for us in John 15:9. As the Father has loved me, so Ihave loved you. Now remain in my love. You remain in God’s love whenyou make time to open His Word each day and grasp the message He has for you.You remain in God’s love when you go into your quiet place and talk toHim like your Father. You remain in God’s love when you confess your sinsand know that you are cleansed by doing so. You remain in God’s love whenyou are able to acknowledge when Satan is tempting you and you reach out to God’slove to overcome. You remain in God’s love when you follow through on thenudging of the Holy Spirit, no matter how much you don’t understand whyHe directs you a certain way.
God’s love is God. God is love. If you are not overwhelmed by God’slove for you, perhaps that is where you need to start. Ask God to show you Hislove. Then remain in it.