Commandment. I had been chewing on Matthew 22:37, the Lord’s greatest commandment, off and on for days: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind (ESV).” This was familiar territory – a distinctly clear, concise and basic injunction, but I was sensing the need for it to take deeper root within me. One morning, while folding laundry before heading to the office, I casually considered the sentence yet again. Then it happened. I sensed His still, small voice say, “You know, it’s more than just a commandment!”

Prophetic Promise. After a moment of stunned silence I found myself repeating aloud the words “you shall.” Yes, this is command language but suddenly I began to hear the promise imbeded within. Until that moment I had been tone deaf to Jesus’ prophetic voice in that phrase: believers will (someday) love God wholeheartedly. Jesus is boldly promising, as we follow Him through life, that our fragmented hearts, sin-stained souls and distracted minds will eventually be fully turned and accurately tuned to love Him above and beyond all other lovers! That's amazingly hopeful!

Enabling. We easily fail to measure up to the royal commandment’s high and holy standard; we don’t love God well. This is bad news and we often carry honest guilt or toxic shame stemming from this recognition – our love for Him is immature, distracted, distorted, displaced, dis-eased. But He knows our reality and has promised to enable us to love Him the way He desires to be loved. He is passionate about creating within us the very thing He commands from us.

Desire. I continued meditating on the words heart, mind and soul, and I was clearly hearing Jesus' desire - His desire for us to love Him purely and perfectly. I was in awe of what He's doing. He’s planted, like an acorn, a similar desire within our new hearts - it's the desire to love Him passionately, responsively, obediently. He’s allowing the circumstances of our lives to grow that desire so we will yearn for more and more of Him. Can you hear His desire? Can you feel your own? Are you cultivating it?

Learning to Love. We are on a life-long journey of leaning to love God the way He desires to be loved. This seems to be the primary goal and the central process to the claim, “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3). This dynamic lies at the core of spiritual formation. That morning encounter with the Holy Spirit resulted in my emerging awareness and responsiveness to the empowered three-in-one blessings of Matthew 22:37 – the commandment, the prophetic promise and the desire to love the Lord.

O Loving Father: You alone infuse the hearts of Your people and inspire us with the longing to love You in return. Bring order to our dis-ordered minds, release our affections from bondage to lesser loves and enable our wills to pursue You with abandon. Give us grace to love what You command and desire what You promise. May we co-operate with You and find our greatest joy, the meaning of our lives and our deepest satisfaction in loving You. Amen.