I’ve recently been intrigued by a new reality show, “The Sisterhood,” that chronicles the journey of several young women on a quest to determine whether they are called to be nuns. In one of the episodes, a wise, older sister shared something she heard directly from Mother Teresa herself. She said that the key to finding God’s will is simple: spend 10 minutes every day letting Jesus love your heart.
I was struck by the profoundness of this suggestion. In my rush through life (which was compounded during the holiday season) I can’t remember the last time I came quietly before Jesus to simply receive his affection for me. Oh, I have included quick readings of Christian devotional books or passages of Scripture virtually daily, but these have been squeezed in while eating breakfast and glancing sideways at my watch to make sure I’m not late for work. I’ve also spent regular time in prayer, but these moments have typically focused on talking to God about the practical needs in my life or the lives of those whom I care about. I’ve attended worship services most Sundays, but my spiritual receptors have frequently felt numb.
In the midst of all my “spiritual activity,” I have rarely quieted myself before Jesus to simply receive his love. This has resulted in a state of heart-deprivation that has robbed me of joy and left me feeling isolated. I have tried to “soldier on” with a hollow smile, but my soul has felt the crushing weight of attempting to serve others with my heart-tank running close to empty. I am recognizing that if I don’t change my pattern and take time to re-fuel my spirit, I could end up stalled on the side of the road.
So, what can I do to let Jesus “love my heart” more? First, I must spend more time actually being quiet before Him . . . not hurriedly going through the motions of Bible reading and prayer, but intentionally taking time to talk less, listen more, and receive his love.
Surprisingly, I may have a role model in my little dog Bailey. Lately he has gotten into the habit of coming to me in the morning with an expectant look on his face. I recognize that he is hoping for some “love time.” The minute I sit down on the floor, he runs joyfully to me and climbs into my lap. For several minutes we cuddle, with me caressing him gently and speaking loving words, and he looking adoringly into my eyes and “air-kissing” me. I think Jesus wants to meet with me in much the same way – he can’t wait to hold me in his arms and tell me how much he loves me. All I need to do is come with joyful expectancy into his warm embrace. Too often I have brushed right past him in the midst of my “spiritual motions.”
In addition to spending more intimate one-on-one time with the Lord, I can strive to heighten my awareness to his love-whispers throughout the day. It’s easy for me to blitz through a busy schedule in such a “task-oriented” mode that I’m oblivious to the little “love notes” that Jesus is sending along the way. Signs of God’s affection are different for everyone, but for me they often come through music. Many times a phrase from a song on the radio feels like it was meant just for me, like the following excerpt from Francesca Battistelli’s “He Knows My Name:”
“He calls me chosen;
Wanted, child of the King;
Held and treasured;
I am loved. . .”
Other ways I have experienced God’s love notes gracing my days include marveling at the beauty and intricacy of his creation, recognizing answers to prayer, receiving strength to complete a task, feeling joy as I exercise the gifts he has given me, sensing a nudge to pursue a course of action, being the recipient of the kindness of others, acknowledging his faithfulness to provide my daily needs, finding wisdom to deal with a perplexing situation, and discovering his peace, presence and comfort during trials.
Most of all, I am reminded of God’s love when I recall a Scripture verse that I have hidden in my heart. The Bible is the greatest love letter of all, written to unfold God’s plan of salvation for everyone. While there are dozens of verses about love in Scripture, John 3:16 captures the extent of God’s passion for us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This one act was proof enough that we are loved beyond measure, even when we may not feel it.
As the new year unfolds, I challenge you to “let Jesus love your heart.” Ask God to open your soul and ears to his love-whispers. You might be surprised where you hear them.