“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22.37)
What does it mean to love God?
A few weeks before Christmas I got a call from a lady named LaVonne. She found my ministry online and asked me to call her back. I had never met her. I checked with my wife and she felt okay about it, so I called LaVonne.
I asked LaVonne what she needed. She said she just wanted me to pray for her. LaVonne was estranged from her family and she was alone. I asked her what I could pray for. She said she wanted to get home for Christmas. She wanted to drive from North Dakota to Montana.
I prayed for her and we hung up the phone. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that God wanted me to send her $200. This didn’t make sense. I didn’t know LaVonne. Would she really use the money to get home? She sounded perfectly fine, but I’d been fooled by people before. Given my uncertainty and the busyness of my schedule, I decided not to act: I would not send LaVonne $200.
Jeremiah 2.2 says: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.”
Notice we’re talking about devotion. What kind of devotion? Devotion of a bride. A bride who does what? Loves her groom. And what does that love cause her to do? Follow her groom through the desert, through a land not sown.
A land not sown means it shows no promise. There’s no apparent purpose, no fruit. It has no meaning. The reason hasn’t made itself known. You don’t understand why you’re there. You see, the desert isn’t just a place, it’s also a season, and it’s also a decision. Sometimes we don’t understand why we’re called to a place, a season, or a decision.
But despite this lack of purpose, we’re still called to follow. That’s what you do in a loving relationship—you trust. And because you trust, you follow. Israel followed God because she loved Him. She trusted God because He was her lover. We’re called to do the same.
But God’s not just our lover; He’s also our LORD.
There’s an interesting name for God in Gen. 31.42. Jacob names God by saying, “the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac.”
Now, follow me. “The God of my father.” Who’s that? Well it’s Jacob talking and Isaac is his father, so it’s like saying “the God of Isaac.”
Next, “the God of Abraham.” Who’s Abraham? He’s Jacob’s grandfather, the father of Isaac.
And finally, “the Fear of Isaac.” What does this mean? Well, in Gen. 31.53, this language appears again, “So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac.”
This is very interesting. God is being named “the Fear of Isaac,” not once but twice. But why? Why would God be called the Fear of Isaac? To fear God is to reverence, respect, and honor Him because of who He is. Remember the story of Abraham and Isaac? (Gen. 22.1-19)
God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to him. Although Abraham loved his son, he decided to obey God. Abraham packed up wood for the altar and his knife, and he brought his son with him to the mountain.
Isaac asked his dad what they would sacrifice. Abraham said God would provide. At the top of the mountain, Abraham bound his son and piled him on top of the wood. Just as he was about to slay Isaac, an angel appeared and said, ”Stop!” and he showed Abraham a ram in the bushes. And the angel said that because Abraham did not withhold even his son from God, then God would bless him.
Now imagine Isaac in this experience. What has he learned about God? With one word, God could have slayed him. But with one word, God spared him. That word overpowered a father’s love for his son. Now that’s a God to reverence, respect, and honor because He’s LORD. He’s the Fear of Isaac.
Well, Christmas came and went. I got a voicemail from LaVonne. I called her back.
“Did you get home for Christmas?” I asked.
“Well, no,” said LaVonne. “I didn’t have enough money.”
“Oh,” I sighed. “How much would it have been?”
“$200,” she answered.
Loving God means obeying Him out of reverent trust, even when we don’t understand.